For the second time in four seasons, the RockHounds franchise has received a "once-in-a-lifetime" honor.
RockHounds General Manager Monty Hoppel has been named Baseball America's 2010 Executive of the Year.
His selection comes just three years after the RockHounds were named winners of the John H. Johnson Award, presented to the nation's top minor league franchise. In each case, the award is chosen from a "field" of 176 affiliated minor league clubs nationwide, from the Rookie level up through Triple-A.
"This is our award," Hoppel said. "I share it with our city, our business partners and fans, two first-class owners and our incredible staff, who are not only my family, but great executives doing outstanding work for minor league baseball. Thank you to Baseball America for this honor and for all you do for our sport."
RockHounds co-owner Bob Richmond, who serves as president of both the Northwest and Arizona Leagues, and deals with minor league franchises nationwide, pointed out the magnitude of the honor.
"The Executive of the Year Award, presented by the bible of our industry, Baseball America, is perhaps the
most coveted honor our industry bestows," Richmond said. "We have more than 170 franchises in Minor League Baseball, each employing many individuals, yet just one person receives this award annually. It's a remarkable honor, and we're so proud of Monty for his achievement. To receive national recognition for both Monty and the franchise is all the more rewarding."
The franchise, born as the Cubs in 1972, is entering its 40th anniversary season, with Hoppel's tenure as general manager now covering more than half that time, 22 years. While he was already "on board" when Richmond and Miles Prentice purchased the team in 1991, the relationship they formed, like the franchise itself, has flourished.
"When Miles and I purchased the Midland franchise twenty-one seasons ago, Monty was the new general manager," Richmond said. "We knew he was a winner instantly, but we really had no idea just how great he would become. Because of Monty, we believe we have the finest staff in the business. Our franchise is unsurpassed in staff loyalty and longevity. We really are, in many ways, a family."
In the first year of the new ownership (1991), attendance at (then) Angels Stadium increased by more than 33,000 fans, earning Hoppel the first of his four Texas League Executive of the Year honors. In 1995, the club drew more than 200,000 for the first time (and would do the same in 1996), an attendance figure thought to be "unreachable" in this market. The franchise was presented with Baseball America's Bob Freitas Award that season, naming the club the top Double-A franchise in the nation.
Hoppel was a leader in the grass roots community effort which resulted in the Scharbauer Sports Complex becoming a reality. The facility not only kept affiliated professional baseball in the Permian Basin, but also ushered in a new era. In nine seasons, the RockHounds have drawn more than 2-and-a-half-million fans at Citibank Ballpark, including a 2010 season in which the club hosted the Texas League All-Star Game and drew more than 300,000 fans (regular season, All-Star Game and playoffs), an all-time record.
In 2007, the RockHounds were selected for Minor League Baseball's John H. Johnson Award, naming the club the nation's top franchise. The award is based on long-term stability and success, as well as making contributions to both the baseball industry and the community.
Since Miles Prentice and Bob Richmond purchased the franchise (then known as the Angels) in 1990, and under Hoppel's guidance during that time, the club has been named the Texas League's Franchise of the Year three times (1991, 1994 and 2002) and Monty has been named the league's top executive on four occasions (1991, 1995, 2002 and 2009). The RockHounds have been the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics since 1999 (please see comments from Texas League President Tom Kayser and Oakland A's Vice President & General Manager Billy Beane).
"Simply put, Monty Hoppel is one of the finest general managers in baseball. This award also speaks volumes about ownership and the outstanding staff Monty has assembled.
"To accomplish what the RockHounds have done, in one of the smallest markets in AA baseball,
is nearly miraculous."M
Texas League President
"Monty's tenure at the helm of the RockHounds has produced one of the model organizations in all of Minor League Baseball.
"The A's are honored to have been affiliated with the RockHounds over the past 12 years and look forward to many more seasons of working with Monty and his staff."
Vice President & General Manager
Note: The full story on this award appears in Baseball America's current issue and online at baseballamerica.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.