Baseball's Winter Meetings make headlines thanks to trades, signings and "hot stove" discussions. But the annual event (held this year in Nashville, Tenn.) also brings together hundreds of baseball professionals from across the country and recognizes the accomplishments and contributions made by those at all levels of the game.
Bob Richmond was the recipient of three major awards at the 2012 meetings. The RockHounds co-owner was named winner of the Warren Giles Award, Baseball America's Minor League Executive of the Year Award and received a commendation for his years of service from Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner.
The Warren Giles Award (named in honor of the former National League president) is presented in recognition of outstanding service by a league president. Bob became just the fifth league president to win the Giles Award twice since its inception in 1984. The Baseball America award winner is chosen from executives of Minor League Baseball's 18 leagues and more than 200 clubs in the US, Canada, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
The 2012 Baseball America honor marks the second time in the last three seasons the award has gone to a member of the RockHounds organization - - - general manager Monty Hoppel was the 2010 winner.
Bob Richmond's background is, perhaps, unique in professional baseball. He has served as a league attorney and president, and has been involved in brokering baseball clubs for more than 30 years. Among those influenced along the way was Pat O'Conner, who honored Bob with a commendation for his three decades in minor league baseball.
In its article announcing the Executive of the Year Award, Baseball America referred to O'Conner looking up to Richmond as a mentor when he was breaking into the business as a young operator in the Florida State League in the early 1990's. Now Minor League Baseball's president, O'Conner views Richmond as a steadying presence and a wise leader.
"Bob was always a calming influence, not only to me, but to any league or conversation he was a part of. A smart guy, but humble, and just as good a person. He's one of the good guys in our business."
In 1991, Bob was consulting Miles Prentice on the purchase of the Midland franchise and, in the process, agreed to become Miles' partner. They purchased the (then) Angels and, as their partnership now enters its 23rd season in West Texas, the RockHounds remain the only team in which Bob has an ownership interest.
While serving as Northwest League attorney in 1974, Bob was asked to fill the vacant league president position until a full-time president was found. That "temporary" position would, over two stints, become 30 years of service. Bob also helped found the Arizona Rookie League and has served as that league's president since its inception in 1988. He will continue as AZL president but will retire from his Northwest League position at the end of the year. He will, however, continue with the NWL in an advisory role for the 2013 season.
His consulting firm, Baseball Opportunities, was formed in 1981 with his partner and friend, Bob Freitas. After Freitas' passing in 1989, Baseball America named its highest award in his honor. The Bob Freitas Award is presented annually to franchises that demonstrate long-term stability and success. The relationship, in a sense, came full circle when the Angels were named winners of the Freitas Award for the Double-A level in 1995.
Also at the Winter Meetings - - -
RockHounds business manager Eloisa Galvan was the Texas League's nominee for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award. Like the Baseball America Executive of the Year honor, the Rawlings award winner is chosen from among executives of all leagues and clubs at every minor league level nationwide. Ironically, since the award was first presented in 1979, the Texas League has had just one winner (Karen Paul of the El Paso Diablos in 1983). Darlene Giardina, who has served as Controller of the Rochester (NY) Red Wings for 22 years, was this year's winner.
A West Texas native, Eloisa has been with the franchise since 1988, when she served as a member of the part-time (game day) staff. She is now in her 19th year as a full-time member of the team's front office.
The RockHounds were also the Texas League's nominee for the Larry MacPhail Promotional Award, which focuses on community involvement and promotional efforts. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were selected as the 2012 winners, based largely on a highly successful reading program for kids. The RockHounds' Scoring In Schools Program, initially developed in the early 1990's, now reaches nearly 10,000 students in West Texas each year (9,660 in 2012).
"My association with Bob goes back many years, and my opinion of him is both that of a baseball man and as a good, kind and helpful human being. He is one of the most positive, upbeat people I have ever known."
"He is also one of the most selfless and loyal people in our business, and so well-connected that a quick word from Bob can help solve a problem or get someone a job, or at the least a foot in the door."
"While Bob is never the most vocal person in the room, when he addresses a topic, folks listen."
"He also recognizes that there are many different paths to success, not just his way."
"I am thankful that Bob has been both a friend and mentor to me during my career."
Texas League president & Giles Award winner (2003)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.