The Appalachian League of Professional Baseball Clubs announced today that after 23 seasons at the helm, league president Lee Landers will retire following the 2018 season.
"I'm honored to have led the Appalachian League since 1996, and I am so proud of where the league is now and where it is headed," Landers said. "The league is as strong as it has ever been and the group of people operating teams in the Appalachian League are second to none. I'll be leaving the league in good hands and look forward to watching the league continue to prosper in the future."
At last month's Baseball Winter Meetings, Minor League Baseball named Landers the 2017 King of Baseball, an award that recognizes a veteran of professional baseball for longtime dedication and service.
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. In 1982, the Landers-led Springfield Cardinals became the first team owned by their Major League affiliate to win the prestigious Bob Freitas Award for excellence. 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 prestigious game operations and umpire development committees. He was inducted to the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. Landers resides in Redington Shores, Florida, with his wife of 59 years, Bobbi. The pair have five children, 10 grandchildren and one great granddaughter.
"Lee Landers has dedicated his career to professional baseball and the game, and certainly the Appalachian League, is better because of his contributions," said Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O'Conner. "While I congratulate him on his retirement, his leadership will be missed by everyone associated with the Appalachian League, from club employees to managers, umpires and the countless fans he has befriended at ballparks over the years."
"As a man of great faith and character, Lee Landers has fulfilled the role of Appalachian League president with dignity and class and the respect that I, and my fellow league presidents, have for him is immeasurable," said Randy Mobley, chairman of Minor League Baseball's Council of League Presidents. "Lee has been a great role model for all league presidents as he has been a passionate advocate for his Appalachian League teams, and there has been no one around the table at our meetings with greater integrity and love for the game than Lee Landers. He is a true friend and mentor for us all and we look forward to celebrating his final year in office with him."
"Lee was always friendly, always helpful, and always fair to all of us in his role as president of the Appalachian League," said Tampa Bay Rays director of Minor League operations Mitch Lukevics. "While it was a sad day when Lee told us about his retirement, we wish him nothing but the best in the future as he is one of the best men on the planet."
Landers will remain associated with the Appalachian League as President Emeritus. The Appalachian League has named longtime baseball executive Dan Moushon as Landers' successor. Moushon has been vice president of the Burlington, North Carolina, club for the past 23 years.
"I am excited for the opportunity to lead the Appalachian League and it is an honor and privilege to follow such a great man in this role," said Moushon, who will take over as president on Jan. 1, 2019. "Lee has been a great friend for 30 years and is one of the most highly respected men in the game of baseball. His career and accomplishments speak for themselves."