REDINGTON SHORES, Fla. -- Appalachian League president Lee Landers has announced Burlington Royals general manager Ryan Keur has been named the league's Executive of the Year for an unprecedented third consecutive season. Meanwhile, Burlington also received the Promotional Award of Excellence for the second straight year. The Appalachian League awards are voted on by the general managers, field managers and umpires.
"It's quite an honor for Ryan to be recognized by his peers for the third year in a row," said Landers. "He and his staff in Burlington do just a terrific job, and they should be proud of all their accomplishments."
After overseeing significant upgrades to Burlington Athletic Stadium's bleachers and kids' zone, Keur's club saw a 10 percent increase in attendance this season to give them their highest single-season attendance since 1993. Furthermore, over Keur's five years with the club including the last three as general manager, attendance has nearly doubled.
"It's a great honor, but we really view the Executive of the Year as an organizational award from top to bottom," said Keur. "With the Promotional Award, this was the most fun we've had as a staff coming to the ballpark and just bringing a smile to peoples' faces so it was a great year."
Under Keur's leadership, Burlington has consistently provided their fans with an entertaining promotional schedule that is both unique and creative. This season, their "emoji jerseys" garnered national attention, and they adopted a team motto of "no jumbotron, no problem," and created their own versions of "kiss cam" and other popular in-game promotions.
Other notable announcements from the league office included Pulaski Yankees general manager Blair Hoke named as the league's nominee for Minor League Baseball's Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award, the Greeneville Astros as the nominee for the John Henry Moss Community Service Award and the Danville Braves as the nominee for the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award.
By virtue of the league nominations, each recipient is now eligible to receive further recognition at the MiLB Annual Awards Banquet to take place during the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland from December 4-8.
The Rawlings Award is presented to a woman who has made outstanding contributions to her club, her league or baseball. Hoke, who was part of a successful 2015 inaugural season for the Pulaski Yankees, took over as general manager of the club in 2016. Behind her guidance, the club has led the league in attendance each of the last two years. All the while, Hoke maintains that building strong relationships is the most rewarding part of her job, and she is grateful to have an abundance of resources and support from her peers.
"I could not be more thrilled to receive the Appalachian League Woman of Excellence award and to be the league's nomination for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year," said Hoke. "There are so many wonderful and admirable females in the baseball industry, many whom I have learned a great deal from; it is an honor to receive this nomination alongside many of Minor League's most deserving. I am grateful to have this opportunity in an industry that continues to strive and develop through its diversity initiatives."
The Community Service Award is awarded to a club that demonstrates an outstanding, on-going commitment to charitable service, support and leadership within their local community and within the baseball industry. The Astros have a long history of service within the Greeneville community, and among their notable achievements this year, the Astros helped raise funds for their local Boys & Girls Club, wore specialty jerseys to raise funds for a local children's hospital, and hosted a benefit concert by country music star Frankie Ballard with proceeds going to help a local arts education program.
"We believe that giving back to the community and being involved in civic organizations is very important," said Greeneville general manager David Lane. "It's not just for the three months we are in season, we want to have a year-round presence in our community and really make an impact."
The Charles Murphy Patriot Award is presented to a club for outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community. The Danville Braves continuously showed their support of the military throughout the month of July as they held a Military Appreciation Night each Friday night, in addition to July 3, where active and retired members of the military all received free tickets to the game as part of their recognition. Furthermore, the club did a military jersey auction with proceeds going to the Danville Veterans Memorial and the Fort Bragg Fisher House.
"We wanted to show our appreciation for our military and all that they do to protect our freedom," said Danville general manager David Cross. "If raising some funds helps to alleviate some of the burdens on our military families, it's the least we can do."