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Holland officially inducted into Appalachian League Hall of Fame 

((Jessica Nuzzo/ Bluefield Daily Telegraph))
June 30, 2020

Princeton — Jim Holland’s familiar smile was on full display again on Monday as the hard-working former baseball administrator was inducted into the new Appalachian League Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place at the Vietnam Veterans of America building in Princeton, the city in which Holland spent 24 successful

Princeton — Jim Holland’s familiar smile was on full display again on Monday as the hard-working former baseball administrator was inducted into the new Appalachian League Hall of Fame.

The ceremony took place at the Vietnam Veterans of America building in Princeton, the city in which Holland spent 24 successful years as general manager of the Appy League clubs sponsored by the Princeton Baseball Association at Hunnicutt Field.

“I’ve been so blessed that baseball has given me (the opportunity) to make a living for 30 years, doing something that I truly love,” said Holland, who retired earlier this year after a front office job with the West Virginia Miners in Beckley.

“It’s just a dream. I’ve come full circle,” he said, standing behind a podium draped with dark blue bunting that bore the Princeton Rays’ logo.

“I am proud, very proud, to be the first inductee into the Appalachian League Hall of Fame representing the Princeton franchise,” Holland said.

“Today is indeed a great day to celebrate the 32-year history of baseball in this town,” he said. “Today is all about Princeton.”

Holland served as Princeton GM from November 1991 to early 2016. For the first five seasons, the club was affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds, then in 1997 became an affiliate of the brand new Tampa Bay Rays franchise. Princeton’s only Appalachian League championship came in 1994.

A native of the town of Dunbar in the Kanawha Valley, Holland arrived in Princeton after a couple of years working for the Appy League’s now-defunct Huntington franchise.

He hit the ground running. For the next 24 summers, Princeton professional baseball had a promotion, giveaway or “special night” at every home game played. Holland worked continually on stadium renovations, community outreach, directing a corps of volunteers and part-time employees, and balancing the shoestring budget of a rookie-level baseball franchise.

In 1993, Holland was named the Appy League’s Executive of the Year. He is the only five-time winner of the league’s Award of Promotional Excellence. He was the circuit’s corporate secretary from 2002 to 2012 and was presented the Appalachian League President’s Award in 2015 for “his long-term service to the game.”

The Rotary Club of Princeton chose him as the 1998 recipient of its Service Above Self award, and in 2012 the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce named him its Citizen of the Year.

During his talk on Monday, Holland singled out two additional accomplishments of his tenure in town.

He and Bluefield GM George McGonagle established the Mercer Cup competition in 1992, which has since been nationally recognized. A large trophy goes each summer to the team winning the head-to-head series between the Princeton and Bluefield franchises.

Holland also took pride in adopting the Princeton team mascot, Roscoe the Rooster. The costumed character finished seventh in two national mascot competitions.

Holland said an important part of his job in Princeton was “making every fan feel like they were a member of the family.”

Monday’s induction began with comments from Princeton’s current general manager, Danny Shingleton.

“Jim, thank you very much for all the success you’ve created here,” Shingleton said.

Holland’s wife Judy Foster-Holland then walked to the podium and read a letter to Jim from his stepson Warren, who is now the creative director for the Rays front office in Tampa Bay.

He wrote about the “big influence you (Holland) had on the man I have become today. … I learned to become a workaholic … but more importantly, I learned to love and to respect the game in a whole different way.”

“You’ve been a hall-of-famer for years,” he wrote.

McGonagle, whose own induction into the hall of fame was held on Friday in Bluefield, was on hand for Holland’s ceremony. He was seated at a table with Mahlon Luttrell, the president of the Bristol Pirates organization and chair of the hall of fame selection process.

The Appalachian League Hall of Fame was launched last year as an online entity. The selection of the current class brings the total number of honorees to 20.

The president of the Princeton Baseball Association, Dewey Russell, presented Holland with the plaque noting his hall of fame induction to cap off the event.

Russell recalled that Holland’s hiring in Mercer County coincided with his first year as president of the local baseball group.

“He and I hit on all cylinders — probably 95 percent of the time,” Russell said. “He used to drive me crazy … but we always got it done. We always got it done.”