ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) today announced that Bob Lozinak, owner of the Altoona Curve™, has been named the 2019 King of Baseball. The King of Baseball is a long-standing annual tradition in which Minor League Baseball recognizes a veteran of professional baseball for longtime dedication and service. Lozinak will receive his award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 8, at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront.
"It is an award that isn't given out to too many people. The odds of getting it are really slim. My first reaction was, 'Wow! This is unbelievable that they'd pick me,'" said Bob Lozinak about winning the King of Baseball. "The whole family is jubilant about this honor. I guess it's the proof in the pudding with all the hours and labor we've put into baseball.
Bob Lozinak, and his wife, Joan (both Altoona natives), had dreams of bringing professional baseball to their Pennsylvania hometown since the late 1970s. The dream finally became a reality in 1999, when the Altoona Curve (Double-A™ affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) debuted in April of that year. The original owners of the franchise from 1999-2001, Bob and Joan along with their three sons, Mike, David and Steve, reacquired their hometown team on Dec. 30, 2008, from Greenberg Sports Group. Prior to founding the Curve, the couple owned and operated the Albuquerque Dukes™ (Triple-A™ affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers) from 1979-2000. In between their stints with the Curve, they owned the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx™ (Double-A™ affiliate of the Chicago Cubs and later, the Seattle Mariners) in Jackson, Tennessee, from 2003-2008.
"Bob and his family have played a central role in establishing and maintaining the legacy of the Altoona Curve in their community and within Minor League Baseball," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner. "They had a vision to bring Minor League Baseball to Altoona, and although they were initially met with resistance by local leaders, they persevered, and to this day, they play an active role in the team's operations. On behalf of Minor League Baseball, it is my pleasure to name Bob Lozinak the King of Baseball, and I commend him for his determination, vision and leadership."
Under Lozinak's tutelage, the Albuquerque Dukes (a member of the Pacific Coast League from 1972-2000) were awarded Minor League Baseball's highest honor, the John H. Johnson President's Award twice (1984 and 1991), which honors the complete baseball franchise. Lozinak sold the Dukes in 2000 to focus his efforts on his new franchise, the Altoona Curve. After selling the Curve in 2002, the family purchased the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx (a member of the Southern League beginning in 1998). The team was sold in 2008 and rebranded as the Jackson Generals™ after the 2010 season.
Lozinak was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on June 4, 1937. His college education was halted by five years of military service in the Army during the 1960s. Lozinak completed Officer Candidate's School in Lawton, Oklahoma, and was honorably discharged as a 1st Lieutenant. Upon his departure from the Army, Lozinak returned to finish his education at St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history. In 1969, Bob and Joan became McDonald's franchisees, and their role as an owner-operator continues with stores in Hartford County, Maryland.
In 2016, both Bob and Joan Lozinak were inducted to the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, being recognized for their contributions to the game and for ultimately bringing a Minor League Baseball team to Altoona. During the season, the couple can often be found at Peoples Natural Gas Field enjoying Curve baseball with fellow fans and enjoying the fun, affordable family atmosphere they always dreamed of providing in their hometown through the game of baseball.
Lozinak added, "We do things looking forward to make everything better. We listen to the surrounding communities. Make it about family. That's our philosophy."