President of Rookie-level circuit has worked in game since 1959
Lee Landers has been president of the Appalachian League since 1996. (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)
By Minor League Baseball | November 8, 2017 1:30 PM
Minor League Baseball announced Wednesday that Lee Landers, president of the Appalachian League, has been named the 2017 King of Baseball. The King of Baseball is a long-standing tradition in which Minor League Baseball recognizes a veteran of professional baseball for longtime dedication and service.
Landers will receive the King of Baseball Award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Landers' career in professional baseball began in 1959 in Fresno, and has included stops in Modesto, Twin Falls, Little Rock, Tulsa, New Orleans and Springfield, Illinois, where he was named General Manager of the Springfield Cardinals after the 1981 season. During his 12-year tenure with Springfield, he received Executive of the Year honors and the Promotional Award of Excellence, and was a nine-time winner of the Midwest League's Gold Award for excellence in operations. Landers was named Vice President of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1986.
Since taking the reins of the Appalachian League in 1996, Landers was honored with the Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a Minor League President in 2001, was presented the first annual Bowie Kuhn Award from Baseball Chapel in 2008 and has had four of his Appalachian League teams (Bluefield, Burlington, Greeneville and Pulaski) honored with the Bob Freitas Award for the Short Season classification. Landers currently serves on MiLB's Game Operations and Umpire Development committees. He was inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.
"I was stunned when I received the call and I am very proud, honored and humbled to be chosen as the King of Baseball," said Landers. "To be included in a group with the likes of Roland Hemond and George Kissell, guys that I consider some of my mentors, is just a wonderful feeling and this is a great honor."
"Lee Landers has dedicated his career to professional baseball and is a tremendous ambassador for the game," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner. "With his leadership, experience as a club operator and passion for the game, he has led the Appalachian League to new heights and it is my pleasure to honor him as the King of Baseball."
Landers resides in Redington Shores, Florida, with his wife of 59 years, Bobbi. The pair have five children, 10 grandchildren and one great granddaughter.