JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp General Manager Harold Craw made baseball history this month, becoming the first African-American to win Executive of the Year for any league in Minor League Baseball. He was voted the 2017 Southern League Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year by the league member clubs' general managers.
Southern League recognizes Jumbo Shrimp, GM Harold Craw
"It is a true honor to be selected by my peers. Knowing I am the first African-American to win an Executive of the Year award is a surreal and humbling feeling," Craw said. "Many great people before me have been trailblazers. People like Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and even more recently, former President Obama, have continued to show African-American youth that anything is possible with education, focus, and a strong work ethic. Their fights for equality and breaking the mold have afforded me the opportunity to lead our great organization. I want to thank Ken Babby and Jim Pfander, who gave me the opportunity to live my dream. Their continued support is nothing short of inspiring. I would also like to thank my friend Mike Veeck. He planted the seeds that it only takes one person to effect change and that someone has to be first. I hope this recognition propels the MiLB Diversity Initiative to the next level. The work Pat O'Conner, Vincent Pierson, and the MiLB office are doing should be commended. I look forward to the day when every Minor League Baseball organization's front office and fan base are direct reflections of its community."
Here are statements from baseball industry leaders about Harold Craw's award:
Statement from Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner: "Harold Craw has been a strong baseball executive for many years, and his performance as General Manager of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for the past two seasons has been key to the revitalization of a great franchise in a tremendous baseball city. Being recognized as the Southern League's Executive of the Year is a testament to his leadership ability and commitment to excellence. Becoming the first African-American to win the Executive of the Year Award in all of Minor League Baseball takes the feat from laudable to historical. As an industry committed to innovation and inclusion, it's important that we acknowledge this type of ground-breaking accomplishment and continue to create a culture that welcomes and values diversity. We're very proud of Harold, and we know he will continue to do great things for years to come."
Statement from Southern League President Lori Webb: "I was so thrilled to learn that Harold Craw, the General Manager of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, was voted our Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year award winner for 2017. I first met Harold when he was the Assistant GM in Chattanooga, but I believe Harold has really come into his own as the GM in Jacksonville. He has done an amazing job over the last two years under Ken Babby's ownership of this franchise, initiating so many positive changes in all areas of the operation. This year's final attendance for Jacksonville is a testament to how well-received all of the changes have been by both old and new fans of our Jacksonville club. I sincerely congratulate Harold on being the first African-American winner of this Southern League award in our history, and know that he is a trailblazer in more ways than one, including being the only African-American General Manager out of 160 clubs in Minor League Baseball. His calm demeanor, dry wit and tireless energy have served him well as a leader to his staff, and our league is so proud of Harold and all of his accomplishments to date. We wish him continued success in Jacksonville and know there are more good things to come!"
Statement from Fast Forward Sports Group President and Akron RubberDucks General Manager Jim Pfander: "Harold Craw is a great colleague and friend since we worked together with Charleston RiverDogs, and as we have again collaborated within Fast Forward Sports Group. His career is impressive, and I am proud to have witnessed many of his remarkable accomplishments and contributions to Minor League Baseball, now highlighted by becoming the first African-American to win an Executive of the Year Award. Harold's well-deserved recognition, as well as our club's two other Southern League awards, shows the incredible work he and his team have done the past two years in Jacksonville, and I am excited for the future of the Jumbo Shrimp."
Statement from Fast Forward Sports Group and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp Owner Ken Babby: "We are all incredibly proud of Harold on this notable honor. He exemplifies the leadership qualities most critical in any organization. His humble and passionate leadership style empowers others to lead and succeed. This is truly a great moment for Harold, and for our industry as a whole."
Southern League announces executive awards
The Jumbo Shrimp were also selected as the 2017 Southern League Don Mincher Organization of the Year - a first for Jacksonville since the award began in 2012. As the winner, for the first time since 2010, the franchise is also the league's nominee for Minor League Baseball's John H. Johnson President's Award. For the first time since 2013, Jacksonville won the 2017 Southern League Promotional Trophy and is the league's nominee for Minor League Baseball's Larry MacPhail Award.
The John H. Johnson President's Award, Larry MacPhail Award, and each league's Executive of the Year Award are presented in December at the annual Baseball Winter Meetings, which will take place Dec. 10-14 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.
MiLB Major Award Winners
UP NEXT: The Jumbo Shrimp open the 2018 season presented by Community First Credit Union on April 5, 2018, in Jackson, Tennessee. The 2018 home opener is Wednesday, April 11, 2018, at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Season ticket renewals and new packages for the 2018 season may be reserved with a nonrefundable 25 percent deposit by calling a Jumbo Shrimp account representative at (904) 358-2846 or at the box office, which is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and during home games for the remainder of the 2017 season.
ABOUT THE JUMBO SHRIMP: The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are beginning a new era of affordable family fun with the 2017 season presented by Community First Credit Union at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. With a new lineup of ticket and group options, there is a reason for everyone to get part of the action by calling the Jumbo Shrimp at (904) 358-2846 or visiting www.jaxshrimp.com.