Burlington Sock Puppets win Promotional Award

In their first season, Sock Puppets take home some hardware

August 20th, 2021

BURLINGTON, N.C. - The Appalachian League powered by MLB and USA Baseball announced its league awards for the 2021 season with the Burlington Sock Puppets winning the Promotional Award for Excellence. This award is given out yearly to the Club with the most outstanding promotional work throughout the season. Criteria for the award includes in-season and offseason marketing campaigns, game day promotions, on-field activities, radio, TV and newspaper exposure, community relations and social media activity. The Sock Puppets saw unprecedented media exposure and grew their fanbase exponentially in just the five months since their rebrand.

Burlington’s accolades across the season include the following;

  • Ranked third in attendance among the league however, the Sock Puppets were one of seven teams to increase their attendance from 2019 to 2021 (2020 no season due to COVID) and the only team in the top three highest attendance getters (Pulaski and Johnson City) to increase their average attendance AND the Sock Puppets were the only organization along with Kingsport to increase their average attendance by over 35%.
  • Reached franchise highs in season tickets, sponsorship and merchandise sales.
  • Launched the most successful Appalachian team rebrands with being highlighted in/on People.com, the Bob & Tom national radio show, Yahoo Sports, ESPN, Barstool and more.
  • Grew to be substantially the largest social media presence in the Appalachian League across the three main channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) -- over 20% larger followership than any other team, including growing its own Twitter following by over 70% since Feb. 1.
  • Over 23 million impressions from Feb. 1, 2021, to Aug. 20, 2021, on Twitter alone.
  • Thousands of media mentions across the world including highlights from the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom.
  • Shipped merchandise to all 50 states, including two international countries.
  • Debuted one of the most action packed promotional calendars featuring seven firework shows, two specialty jersey nights, multiple promotional giveaways and had the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Cup Series winning driver AJ Allmendinger out for a night.
  • Were the only team to play all scheduled home games thanks to a grounds crew and playing surface that is among the best in the league.
  • Created the first ever Sales Academy in conjunction with Elon University.
  • Raised thousands of dollars for local charities and families within their community.

“I am extremely proud to work for one-of, if not the best, organizations in the league,” said general manager Anderson Rathbun. “From ownership, to our internship class, to our game-day staff, to Thomas (Vickers, assistant general manager), to Casey (Gural, head groundskeeper) and the rest of our grounds crew, there wasn’t an area within our Club that didn’t excel day in, and day out.” On winning the Promotion Award, Rathbun said the following; “This is an incredible honor and we are grateful to be recognized with this award. Ever since we launched the Sock Puppets brand, we knew we wanted to be different and do things in a unique way not only to attract the media’s attention, but to give our fans a SOCKingly different brand to interact with and a SOCKingly different baseball experience to enjoy… and I think we did that and then some this year.”

For Anderson, Thomas, Ryan Keur (team owner) and the rest of the crew, this is only the beginning. “Ryan brought Thomas and myself up here to put energy back into the franchise here in community and to provide an atmosphere and venue that people in Alamance county and the city of Burlington are proud to have in their backyard.” Rathbun said. “This year was wildly successful in so many ways, but we are just getting started. We have a lot of surprises we are already working on for the 2022 season and we can guarantee that each year will be SOCKingly different and better than the last.”