The Class AA Southern League has unveiled its 2020 Hall of Fame class, featuring a slate of new inductees that includes National Baseball Hall of Famers Edgar Martinez and Sparky Anderson.
The 2020 class includes Asheville manager George Lee “Sparky” Anderson, Chattanooga Lookouts third baseman Edgar Martinez, and Savannah/Greenville/Mississippi Braves catcher and manager Brian Snitker.
Wade Vadakin, batboy, Mobile BayBears, was also elected to the Southern League Hall of Fame via the league’s annual Special Consideration Ballot.
At the annual Southern League Hall of Fame meeting in December, the committee members also endorsed President Lori Webb’s proposal to induct Frances Crockett Ringley, Charlotte O’s general manager and owner, into the league’s Hall of Fame.
In 1968, Sparky Anderson led the Asheville Tourists to their first Southern League Championship with a record of 86-54, a winning percentage of .614. Anderson would go on to manage in the Major Leagues for 26 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers. He was a 3-time World Series Champion, twice with the Reds in 1975 and 1976, and once with the Tigers in 1984. He was also a two-time American League Manager of the year in 1984 and 1987.
In 2000, Anderson was inducted into both the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Both the Reds and the Tigers retired his jersey number. At the time of his retirement, he was the only manager to win a World Series in both leagues, and his 2,194 wins listed him as the third winningest manager in MLB history.
Martinez played two seasons for the Chattanooga Lookouts, appearing in 243 games and batting .261 with 9 HRs while driving in 121 runs. He had an additional 4 games with Jacksonville for a career .263 batting average. In 1985 and 1986, Edgar was the Southern League fielding percentage leader for third basemen with a .947 and .960 fielding percentage respectfully.
In 18 Major League seasons (all with the Seattle Mariners), Martinez was a career .312 hitter with 309 HRs and 2,247 career hits. He was a seven-time All-Star, a five-time American League Silver Slugger award winner, and two-time American League Batting Champion. Edgar Martinez was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 2019.
Snitker managed the Greenville Braves for three years before moving with the team to Pearl, MS in 2005. The 2005 team had some of the brightest prospects in the organization and promoted an unprecedented 11 players to Atlanta. Snitker compiled a 260-283 (.479) record over four seasons as Atlanta’s Double-A manager, three in Greenville and one in Mississippi. As a player, Snitker spent three seasons with Double-A Savannah in the Southern League from 1978-1980. In 108 career minor league games, primarily as a catcher, “Snit” batted .254 with 23 home runs, 112 RBIs, and ten stolen bases.
Brian Snitker became the first Atlanta Braves manager since Bobby Cox in 2005 to be named Manager of the Year. In 2019, Snitker, who has been part of the Braves’ organization for 43 years, led the Braves to their second consecutive National League East Division Title. He remains the Braves manager for the upcoming 2020 season.
Vadakin was voted into the 2020 SL Hall of Fame class via the Special Consideration ballot. His official title for the BayBears was “Director of On-field Operations”. Wade is known for “riding the bull” – pretending to be on horseback when he picked up bats following BayBears’ run-scoring plays. He was warmly welcomed by Mobile fans and players during the team’s 22 seasons.
Wade’s accomplishments with the BayBears are impressive, especially considering the litany of health problems that have plagued him throughout his life. Vadakin, who turned 40 this year, was born with congenital brain-stem damage and visual impairment, along with diabetes since he was 13 months old. He will begin his 23rd year with the Southern League as the Blue Wahoos new batboy for the 2020 season.
Frances Crockett Ringley’s induction is based solely on her accomplishments and contributions to the Charlotte O’s and the Southern League during her 12-year span as baseball’s first ever female general manager. Frances and her family owned the Charlotte O’s until it was sold in October of 1987.
In 1980, the attendance level hit 198,528 at 5,500-seat Crockett Park. Charlotte baseball had never before eclipsed 146,000. Her attendance record, along with winning the city’s first league championship in eight years, earned her the honor of being named The Sporting News Class AA Baseball Executive of the Year. She was the first woman to win The Sporting News award at any level. That same year she was selected as the Rawlings Outstanding Woman Executive of the Year, which she won again in 1985.
Frances was known for her promotional flair, which made attending a ball game an event – not just a night at a baseball game. Some of her promotions included holding ostrich and go-cart races, giving out kazoos to form “the world’s biggest kazoo band”, discounting Sunday ticket prices to anyone who brought in a church bulletin and passing around “the world’s largest ice cream sundae”.
“It is an honor that is long overdue, and one I was proud to sponsor. Women in executive roles in baseball are still slow growing, so Frances was definitely ahead of her time! She deserves to be included in our Hall of Fame, enshrined for all time, as a trailblazer and role model for all women working in sports,” said President Webb.
All of the inductees to this year’s Hall of Fame class will be recognized by the Southern League prior to the 2020 All-Star Game in Jackson, TN.