Appy League's Landers named King of Baseball

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.

Previous king of baseball award winners
1951 Clarence Rowland 1968 Dewey Soriano 1985 Stan Wasiak 2002 George Zuraw
1952 J. Alvin Gardner 1969 Chauncey DeVault 1986 Lefty Gomez 2003 Bob Wilson
1953 Frank Shaughnessy 1970 George MacDonald 1987 Bill Schweppe 2004 Dave Rosenfield
1954 Shelby Pease 1971 Phil Piton 1988 Max Patkin 2005 Calvin Falwell
1955 Herman White 1972 Vince McNamara 1989 George Sisler, Jr. 2006 Paul Snyder
1956 Tommy Richardson 1973 Ray Johnston 1990 John Moss 2007 Dave Walker
1957 Charles Hurth 1974 Fred Haney 1991 George Pfister 2008 Pat Gillick
1958 Not awarded 1975 Joe Buzas 1992 John Lipon 2009 Milo Hamilton
1959 Bonneau Peters 1976 Don Avery 1993 George Kissell 2010 Don Mincher
1960 Joe Engel 1977 Bill Weiss 1994 Jimmy Bragan 2011 Chito Rodriguez
1961 Rosy Ryan 1978 Zinn Beck 1995 Gene DaCosse 2012 George McGonagle
1962 Phil Howser 1979 Harry Simmons 1996 S. "Chief" Bender 2013 Charlie Eshbach
1963 Donnie Bush 1980 Billy Hitchcock 1997 Max Schumacher 2014 Bill Valentine
1964 Eddie Mulligan 1981 Jack Schwarz 1998 Leo Pinckney 2015 William Gladstone
1965 Ray Winder 1982 Sy Berger 1999 Tom Saffell 2016 Dave Elmore
1966 Eddie Leishmann 1983 Oscar Roettger 2000 Pat McKernan  
1967 Alejo Peralta 1984 Donald Davidson 2001 Roland Hemond  

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