The Rookie-level Appalachian League has unveiled the recipients of its 2018 awards, as president Lee Landers made the announcement today. The awards are voted on by the general managers of each club in the Advanced Rookie league. Five of the league’s nine awards include a nomination for Minor League Baseball national awards to be presented at the 2018 Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas in December.
Organization of the Year – Johnson City Cardinals
The Johnson City Cardinals were voted 2018 Appalachian League Organization of the Year, presented to a club that exemplifies the standards of the complete baseball franchise. The Cardinals set a single-season attendance mark in 2018, welcoming 68,881 fans to TVA Credit Union Ballpark. Since 2013, the Cardinals have tripled their attendance, thanks in large part to the transition in ownership to Boyd Sports LLC. Since 2016, Boyd Sports LLC has made improvements to all phases of the organization, from stadium improvements to the overall fan experience during games and outside events. Again in 2018, the Cardinals produced one of the top promotional schedules in the League, highlighting the organization’s focus on the fan experience and ballpark atmosphere. As the 2018 Appalachian League Organization of the Year, Johnson City will be nominated for MiLB’s John H. Johnson President’s Award.
Executive of the Year – Zac Clark, Johnson City Cardinals
In his first season at the helm in Johnson City, Cardinals General Manager Zac Clark has been named 2018 Appalachian League Executive of the Year, awarded to the executive who, in the estimation of his/her peers, has made the most valuable contribution to his/her club and/or league. Clark has improved the overall marketing of the team, provided successful leadership in game day operations, been active in the community, and has created excitement for Minor League Baseball in his city, helping to make Johnson City one of the most complete franchises in the Appalachian League. Under Clark’s leadership, the Cardinals set single-game and single-season attendance records in 2018 thanks in part to the execution of one of the top promotional schedules in the League.
Woman of Excellence Award – Betsy Haugh, Pulaski Yankees
Betsy Haugh has been named the recipient of the Appalachian League Woman of Excellence Award for the second consecutive season, presented to the woman who has made outstanding contributions to her club, community, league, and/or baseball. In her first season in Pulaski she was responsible for tasks including marketing and social media, ticket and sponsorship sales, and overseeing the team’s seven interns. She also helped create a revamped promotional schedule that contributed to Pulaski’s Appalachian League leading attendance mark of over 90,000. Haugh also served as the League publicist again in 2018 and assisted numerous teams in the league in creating their new websites during the MiLB responsive migration. As the 2018 Appalachian League Woman of Excellence, Haugh will be nominated for the Rawlings’ Woman Executive of the Year Award.
Outstanding Employee of the Year Award – Craig Adams, Bristol Pirates
Bristol Pirates Assistant General Manager Craig Adams has been named the 2018 Appalachian League Outstanding Employee of the Year, presented to a club employee who, in the estimation of his/her peers, has made the most valuable contribution to his/her club by going above and beyond the scope of their position to contribute to the success of the franchise. Adams, a Disabled Navy Veteran who volunteers and spends numerous hours at the ballpark, has embraced the Pirates’ “treat everyone like family” philosophy to help Bristol Baseball create an inviting atmosphere for all. He led the Pirates’ community relations efforts and established a program to work with other area non-profit groups to help them raise funds through volunteer initiatives at the ballpark. He also increased the team’s publicizing and promotion efforts through press releases and social media, increasing exposure on these platforms by over 120% this season.
Promotional Trophy – Johnson City Cardinals
For the second consecutive season, the Johnson City Cardinals have been named the recipient of the Appalachian League Promotional Trophy, awarded to the club that demonstrates outstanding and creative marketing and promotional work. The Cardinals promotional schedule included premium giveaways, as well as theme nights such as Margaritaville Night, Star Wars Night, and Taco Tuesdays. The mix of promotions helped Johnson City attract a mix of both young and old coming to the ballpark each night, creating an unparalleled fan experience. As the winner of the 2018 Appalachian League Promotional Trophy, Johnson City will be nominated for MiLB’s Larry MacPhail Promotional Award.
Radio Broadcaster of the Year – Justin Rocke
Greeneville Reds’ radio voice Justin Rocke has been named the 2018 Appalachian League Radio Broadcaster of the Year, presented to the radio person doing the best all-around job of covering their particular club. In his second year in the Appalachian League, Rocke broadcasted all 68 games for the Reds and served as the main media relations contact in-season, also running the team’s social media platforms. His broadcasts showcased the complete Greeneville franchise, with nightly interview guests covering a variety of topics from the team’s relationship with Cincinnati to community involvement in Greeneville.
Community Service Award – Burlington Royals
The Burlington Royals have received the 2018 Appalachian League Community Service Award, awarded to the club that demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support, and leadership within their local community and the baseball industry. The Royals’ Community Spotlight Program hosts one non-profit group at the ballpark each night, giving the organization a chance to talk about their work on-air during the Royals’ game broadcast. Additionally, the Royals held a Little League Takeover, partnered with a local hospital to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, had a specialty jersey auction to benefit the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Alamance County, and visited 18 different schools to promote summer reading with their Operation Million Minutes Campaign. As the 2018 Appalachian League Community Service Award recipient, Burlington will be nominated for MiLB’s John Henry Moss Award.
Patriot Award – Princeton Rays
The Princeton Rays have been named the recipient of the 2018 Appalachian League Patriot Award, presented to a club or individual for outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community. In 2018 the Rays became a commemorative partner with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, partnered with Wounded Warriors, and collected 183 toys for the Marine Corps League and its Toys for Tots program through a Christmas in July promotion. On the team’s Vietnam Veterans’ Recognition Night, the Rays dedicated a “Chair of Honor” that is permanently installed at Hunnicutt Field with a bronze plaque. Rays General Manager Danny Shingleton served 31 years in the Navy and continues to look for ways to honor military members and their families for all they have done for this country. As the 2018 Appalachian League Patriot Award winner, Princeton will be nominated for MiLB’s Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award.
Sports Media Award – David Gravely, The Southwest Times, Pulaski
The Southwest Times’ photographer and sports reporter David Gravely has been awarded the 2018 Appalachian League Sports Media Award, presented to a media person or outlet doing the best all-around job of covering a particular club. Gravely photographed nearly every Pulaski Yankees home game in 2018, posting photos to social media and allowing the Yankees’ front office to feely use the photos for any use desired (social media, website, card sets, etc.). Additionally, he included game recaps in the newspaper and shared them to Facebook while also creating special “Play Ball” inserts for the paper weekly with photos and highlights from the ballpark.