Appalachian League announces 2021 executive awards

Greeneville general manager Kat Foster named Executive of the Year

August 20th, 2021

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The Appalachian League today announced its end-of-year awards for the 2021 season.

Executive of the Year—Kat Foster, Greeneville Flyboys

Kat Foster, general manager of the Greeneville Flyboys, has been named the 2021 Appalachian League Executive of the Year. The award is presented to the one executive who has made the most valuable contribution to his/her club. In her second year as GM, Foster and her team drew more than 33,000 fans to Pioneer Park, for an average of 1,344 fans per game. On July 4, the Flyboys set an all-time Pioneer Park attendance record with 4,536 fans. Foster has also been active in the community, hosting various events at the ballpark including the NJAA tournament and a sold-out Mercy Me concert. In 2021, the Flyboys contributed more than $122,000 in gift-in-kind donations in the Greeneville area.

Promotional Award of Excellence—Burlington Sock Puppets

The Burlington Sock Puppets have earned the Appalachian League Promotional Trophy. The Sock Puppets launched one of the most successful and wide-spread rebranding campaigns in the baseball industry, receiving national recognition and unprecedented media exposure. The club was featured in/on, ESPN, Bob and Tom national radio show, Yahoo Sports, Barstool and more. Its social media presence was the largest in the league across the three main channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). From February to August, it had more than 23 million impressions on Twitter alone. The staff sold the most season seats and partnerships in club history and created the first Appy League Sales Academy in conjunction with Elon University. In addition, the club performed free Little League takeovers at random youth leagues and hosted free two-day kids’ camps to more than 100 youth.

Patriot Award—Princeton WhistlePigs

The Princeton WhistlePigs are the 2021 recipient of the Appalachian League Patriot Award, presented to a club for outstanding support and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community. The WhistlePigs continued their long-standing support of the military by having a Veteran’s Recognition Day on July 4 and hosted a group from the Wounded Warriors and their families. The WhistlePigs also raised more than $1,000 in new toys and donations for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. General manager Danny Shingleton, retired Navy Chief of more than 31 years, is an active member of the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Marine Corps League.

Lee Landers Community Service Award—Bristol State Liners

The Bristol State Liners, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit operated by Bristol Baseball Inc. and a volunteer gameday staff, have earned the 2021 Appalachian League’s Lee Landers Community Service Award. It is presented annually to a club that demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support and leadership within their community and within the baseball industry. With a focus on the citizens of Bristol, the club has had an economic impact on the region documented at approximately $2.8 million in direct and indirect dollars and has compiled more than 3,500 volunteer hours from game day staff and the board of director’s operational work at the ballpark. In 2021, the club gave more than $1 million in gift-in-kind contributions, including significant donations to Gate City High School and the Virginia High Band Boosters. State Liners staff were also involved with other programs including the Little League Field of Dreams, teacher recognition and the local Civitan’s club.

Organization of the Year—Kingsport Axmen

The Kingsport Axmen were named the 2021 Appalachian League Organization of the Year. The award is given to the one club that exemplifies the standards of the complete baseball franchise, based upon franchise stability, contributions to league stability, contribution to baseball in the community and the promotion of the baseball industry. The Kingsport club saw a 37% increase in average attendance from the last playing season. In 2021, the Axmen averaged 1,228 fans per night. The season high of 3,216 came on Wednesday, June 30, when the Axmen hosted the Opening Ceremonies of the USSSA World Series in Kingsport. After being notified in mid-July that the Axmen players and on-field staff would not be completing the season, the organization moved quickly to form a new team. They were determined to continue the season not only for their fans, but also for the nine other clubs in the league to ensure their schedules remained intact. The Kingsport team was actively involved multiple charitable events and causes, including both the Kingsport Miracle League and the Niswonger Children’s Hospital.