The Rookie-level Appalachian League has unveiled its 2019 Executive Awards, as voted on by the league’s front office executives. Five of the six awards include a nomination for Minor League Baseball national awards to be presented at the 2019 Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Organization of the Year – Pulaski Yankees
The Pulaski Yankees have been voted the 2019 Appalachian League Organization of the Year, presented annually to one club that exemplifies the standards of the complete baseball franchise, based upon franchise stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community and the promotion of the baseball industry. Pulaski led the Appalachian League in attendance for the fifth consecutive season, welcoming the largest number of fans in franchise history to Calfee Park in 2019 and setting franchise records for sponsorship and gameday revenue. The organization completed a multi-million dollar ballpark renovation prior to the start of the season, placing an emphasis on fan experience by adding a three-tiered party deck, kids zone with new inflatables, and covered concourse with additional concessions points of sale. In addition to physical upgrades to the ballpark, the Yankees also upgraded their promotional schedule, adding fireworks, celebrity meet and greets, and live post-game music to their existing line up of weekly promotions, bobbleheads and theme nights. The Yankees also placed an emphasis on community involvement, introducing #CalfeeCares – an organizational mission to give back to the Pulaski and New River Valley communities. The Pulaski Yankees will be the League’s nominee for Minor League Baseball’s John H. Johnson President’s Award.
Executive of the Year – Zac Clark, Johnson City Cardinals
Zac Clack, General Manager of the Johnson City Cardinals, has been named the 2019 Appalachian League Executive of the Year, presented to one executive who, in the estimate of his/her peers, has made the most valuable contribution to his/her club and/or league. In his second year as GM, Clark and his team broke an attendance record set in 2018 by over 17,000 fans. Clark oversaw the implementation of new promotions along with a variety of outside events that provided an opportunity for fans to visit TVA Credit Union Ballpark for the first time this season. Clark has also been active in the community, aiding in the establishment of The Alliance with East Tennessee State University, which aims to provide leadership and networking opportunities for young professionals interested in a career in sports.
Woman of Excellence – Kat Deal, Johnson City Cardinals
Johnson City Cardinals Assistant General Manager Kat Deal has been named the 2019 Appalachian League Woman of Excellence, presented to a female who has made an outstanding contribution to her club, league, and/or to baseball. In her first year with the club, Deal shattered both her group sales and sponsorship sales goals, leading the franchise to a record sales year across the board. She was also responsible for all staffing for the Cardinals, including the internship program and gameday staff. Deal is a board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County and Johnson City, as well as the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra. She is also an active member in Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, and Young Professionals of the Tri-Cities. Deal will be the League’s nominee for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year award.
Community Service Award – Bristol Pirates
The Bristol Pirates, a 501(c)(3) non-profit operated by the board of directors of Bristol Baseball Inc and volunteer gameday staff, have earned the 2019 Appalachian League Community Service Award, presented annually to a club that demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support and leadership within their local community and within the baseball industry. With a focus on the citizens of Bristol, the club has had an economic impact on the region documented at approximately $2.8 million in direct and indirect dollars and has compiled over 4,900 volunteer hours from game day staff and the board of directors’ work operational work at the ballpark. In addition, the Pirates staff and players participated in the Area 10 Special Olympics Bowling Event, American Red Cross Heroes Awards, visits to the Niswonger Children’s Hospital, and library visits. The club contributed over $10,500 in ticket donations, $7,500 in food donations, $4,000 in discounts on park items, and $3,000 in merchandise donations. Bristol will be the League’s nominee for MiLB’s John Henry Moss Award.
Patriot Award – Bluefield Blue Jays
The Bluefield Blue Jays are the 2019 recipient of the 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. On July 6, 2019, Bluefield played host to 373 veterans and their families during the annual Military Appreciation Night. With the support of several sponsors, the Blue Jays were able to provide admission, food vouchers, desserts, tote bags filled with crisis intervention materials, and giveaways to veterans and their families. Additionally, a ROTC and American Legion color guard presented the colors while the National Anthem was performed by a Wounded Warrior accompanied by his service dog. During the game, children of the veterans participated in on-field games. Bluefield will be the League’s nominee for MiLB’s Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award.
Promotional Trophy – Johnson City Cardinals
The Johnson City Cardinals have earned the Appalachian League Promotional Trophy for a third consecutive season, presented to a club for outstanding promotional work during the season. Highlights of the Cardinals’ 2019 promotional schedule included a special guest appearance by Steve Spurrier to throw out a first pitch for his bobblehead night that was featured on ESPN, a celebrity appearance from Peppa Pig, and the creation of the Tacos and Tallboys weekly promotion. The club also hosted fan favorite promos including Dollar Monday, All You Can Eat Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, fireworks, premium giveaways, and Star Wars Night. The Cardinals finished in the top ten of growth in MiLB for Facebook and Twitter, committing to strong social media promotion, as well. Johnson City will be the League’s nominee for MiLB’s Larry MacPhail Promotional Award.