Sock Puppets and Scher Win Top 2022 Appalachian League Awards
Two Appalachian League 2022 grand prizes have been released: the Burlington sock puppets is the summer collegiate league organization of the year, and Danville Otterbots GM austin scher is the executive of the year.
This Organization of the Year award is given to the club that exemplifies the standards of the entire baseball franchise, based on franchise stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community and promoting the baseball industry.
Since reforming the Appalachian League from a rookie-level affiliate league to a summer collegiate league in partnership with MLB in 2021, the Sock Puppets have been the only team to finish in the top three and increase attendance every year. In 2022, the Sock Puppets eclipsed 50,000 total fansa feat the club had not achieved in over a decade.
“When Brittany and Ryan Keur bought the club in 2020 and brought together this staff, we knew we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really create something special here in Burlington that included more than just high-level baseball,” the manager said. general of Sock Puppets. Anderson Rathbun by press release. “To be recognized in this way really shows that from ownership to full-time staff, to our players, interns, field staff and everyone who worked with us this summer, we did things the right way, and, for me, it was a lot of fun to be part of it.
Last year, the Burlington Sock Puppets finished as Eastern Division champions while setting the highest win total by any team since the Appy league change. The Sock Puppets hosted the first-ever two-night All-Star event in league history broadcast nationally on MLB Network, the first-ever “Bros v. Pros” featuring some of the internet’s best-known baseball content creators and broke the franchise record for the highest-attended game at Burlington Athletic Stadium on July 1, when they welcomed 4,217 fans.
Under Scher’s leadership, the Otterbots experienced tremendous increases in attendance and sales, groundbreaking recognition of community programming, and a wide range of inclusivity measures and promotions were cornerstones of growth. From 2021 to 2022, the Otterbots increased average attendance from 990 to 1,202 fans per game, a 21% increase. Total contract sales increased by 61%, including a 225% increase in group sales and a 35% increase in corporate partnership sales.
“I am beyond humbled and honored to have been voted the 2022 Appalachian League Executive of the Year,” Scher said via press release. “The success of the Otterbots this season is a testament to the tireless efforts of my incredible full-time staff, our 2022 probationer class and the best game day staff in all of baseball. We’ve made it our mission to become a true community champion, and I can’t thank our incredible fanbase enough for their support.
Under Scher, the Otterbots unveiled the Appalachian League’s first sensory room, Luca’s Place. The room was designed to accommodate those, especially children, with ballpark sensory sensitivities. The club has upgraded ‘The Wreck’, the stadium bar, added to the children’s area and unveiled a History of Danville Baseball contest mural featuring the logos of the Danville Braves, Danville 97s, Danville Leafs and Danville All -Stars. Otterbots promotional theme nights focused on inclusivity, hosting their second annual Pride Night, Juneteenth Celebration, Sensory Night, Cancer Awareness Night, Foster Parent Appreciation Night, Military Appreciation Night and First Responders Night.