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September 8, 2015

ASHEVILLE, NC-- South Atlantic League President Eric Krupa announced today that the Asheville Tourists have been recognized as the recipient of the SAL Club Merit Award for 2015 and Larry Hawkins has been selected as the General Manager of the Year.

The SAL Club Merit Award honors the team that displays the most success from a front office standpoint, including attendance, revenue generation and ballpark experience for the fans, as well as community and charitable involvement. In winning the prestigious league award, the Asheville Tourists will be the South Atlantic League's nominee for the John H. Johnson Award, which represents all of Minor League Baseball and will be presented at the Winter Meetings in December.

"This is a tremendous honor for the Asheville Tourists and we would like to thank Eric Krupa as well as the rest of the South Atlantic League for recognizing our efforts," said Tourists president Brian DeWine. "I also want to express my appreciation of the Tourists' fans as well as our staff who made this recognition a reality. Opposing teams rave about how supportive our fans are on a nightly basis at McCormick Field. That support is a driving force for every member of our staff to provide the best experience possible for all 70 home games over the course of the season."

The 2015 season marked another banner year for the Tourists, who completed their sixth season under the ownership of DeWine Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball, LLC. After winning the South Atlantic League Championship in 2014 for the second time in three seasons, the franchise celebrated the 100th anniversary of the name "Tourists" and successfully hosted the South Atlantic League All-Star Game in June. In the process of celebrating these milestones, the team continued to increase attendance while strengthening its commitment to the community and its hold as the best family entertainment value in Western North Carolina. The 2015 campaign saw 186,001 fans pass through the turnstiles of McCormick Field, a record for the 92 year old facility.

Since acquiring the Tourists in 2010, the DeWine Family has made the team's commitment to serving as an active member of the Asheville community one of its primary responsibilities. The organization annually donates and assists in raising over one hundred thousand dollars to local non-profits, charities, youth organizations and scholarship winners. Recent efforts include two annual college scholarships to students at Asheville High School as well as contributing to the development and implementation of a Perinatal Loss Program at Mission Hospital to help families after a tragic and unexpected loss of their newborn. In addition, the Asheville Tourists Children's Fund has raised several hundred thousand dollars over the past 15 years to purchase more than 20,000 shoes for needy children throughout Western North Carolina. The franchise also continues its presence in the community through countless mascot and player appearances as well as the Asheville Tourists Reading Program, which grew to more than 5,000 members during the 2015 season.

The highlight of the Tourists 2015 season was hosting the South Atlantic League All-Star Game Presented by Ingles, which marked the first time Asheville has welcomed the annual contest since 1996. League executives and fans traveled from across the country to attend the sold-out game. In addition to the game, the Tourists staff planned and coordinated the Home Run Derby, All-Star Game Luncheon, and All-Star Game Gala.

Larry Hawkins is in his 18th season with the Tourists, including the last 11 as the team's general manager spanning three different ownership groups. Hawkins is involved in all aspects of the team's operation while focusing his efforts on sponsorships, group sales and stadium and game operations. Under his leadership, the Tourists have established franchise season attendance records in each of the past two seasons. He also was instrumental in upgrading 3,000 seats at McCormick Field prior to the 2015 campaign. The change resulted in an enhanced fan experience and improved new look at the historic ballpark.

 "It's nice to get recognized any time you work hard to accomplish something, but I truly appreciate the opportunity I have been given," said Hawkins. I also appreciate all of the hard work our staff puts in on a daily basis and the support of our fans who make an honor like this one possible."

The Tourists are now preparing for their third post-season appearance in the last four years. The Tourists will meet the Savannah Sand Gnats for a best-of-three series that begins on Wednesday night. Game one of the series will be at McCormick Field. Tickets for Wednesday's game are on sale at the Asheville Tourists ServPro Box Office and online at


Please direct any questions or interview requests to Doug Maurer at (828) 258-0428 ext. 203 or [email protected]

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