GREENSBORO, N. C. - Salem Red Sox general manager Ryan Shelton has been selected by a vote of the Carolina League clubs as the 2015 Calvin Falwell Executive of the Year. Shelton, who recently completed his second year as general manager and third year overall with the club, is a first-time recipient of the award.
"It is truly a great honor and a humbling experience to be recognized as the winner of this prestigious award," said Shelton. "While this is meant to be an individual award, it really should be going to all of the members of our staff for their tireless efforts and passionate commitment to our fans. I would also like to share this award with our loyal Salem Red Sox fans as without their support this would not have been possible."
"We are absolutely thrilled that the clubs in the Carolina League have selected Ryan as the winner of this year's award," said Tim Zue, managing director of the Salem Red Sox and senior vice president of Fenway Sports Management. "Ryan has had a transformational impact on our entire organization, and the results that he has achieved over such a short time period have exceeded our wildest dreams."
During his two-year tenure general manager the Salem Sox have increased total attendance by 32 percent. In addition, Shelton has guided the team to a total of 11 sellouts compared to just one over the previous five seasons combined. Under his leadership, the club has seen incredible growth in season tickets (more than tripling since 2013), group tickets (an increase of more than 60 percent) and corporate partnerships (more than 50 new partnerships since 2013). The club has also rededicated itself to customer service and has more than tripled the number of different in-game promotions resulting in a dramatically improved fan experience.
More important than the business successes however is the impact Shelton has had on the community. He has helped introduce a number of new community initiatives including but not limited to those honoring the military (Salute to Heroes, Military Card set giveaway, Freedom Fridays), encouraging more player involvement (the new Community Service Player of the Month program has resulted in the number of player appearances more than doubling since 2013), and raising money for deserving charities (the Sox have helped local charities raise more than $250,000 in much needed funding over the past two seasons). The club also continues to serve the community in times of healing as the 2015 season began with the team wearing special hats as a remembrance of the Virginia Tech shootings and ended with a moment of silence and a "7" symbol painted on the field honoring the tragic deaths of WDBJ's Alison Parker and Adam Ward.
"The impact that Ryan has had on our community has been truly remarkable," said Randy Foley, mayor of the city of Salem. "Ryan also played an integral role in finalizing the lease extension that we announced earlier this season that will keep the club in Salem through 2024, and I could not think of a better person to lead the club into the future."
Shelton began his career in sports in 2008 working as an inside sales representative for the Florida Marlins. He quickly established himself as a rising star and worked his way up the ranks at the Augusta Lynx, South Carolina Sting Rays and Manchester Monarchs where he served as the senior director of ticket sales. He was hired in Salem as the vice president of ticket sales and service in April of 2013 before ascending to the role of general manager in August of that year.
The Falwell award was named in 2006 in recognition of 40 years of service to the league by the man who was president of the Lynchburg club since that city joined the league in 1966. Calvin Falwell died at 90 on August 20, 2011.