The Salem Red Sox, the Advanced Class-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, announced today that General Manager Ryan Shelton has been named the 2015 Calvin Falwell Executive of the Year for the Carolina League. Shelton, who recently completed his second season as General Manager and third year overall with the club, is a first-time recipient of the award.
“It is a great honor and a humbling experience to be recognized by my peers as the winner of this prestigious award,” said Shelton. “While the award is intended to recognize the accomplishments of an individual, it should really recognize the achievements and tireless efforts of our entire front office and their commitment to our fans, the organization and the community. I would also like to share this award with our loyal Salem Red Sox fans; without their support this would not have been possible.”
Shelton was selected as the 2015 Falwell Award recipient by a group of his peers and senior front office executives from the Carolina League, including club general managers and team directors, and the league president. He is just the fourth executive from the Salem club to win the award over the past 29 years joining Sam Lazzaro (1989), Dave Oster (1996), and John Katz (2006).
During his tenure as General Manager, the Salem Sox have increased total attendance by 32 percent including 11 sellouts compared to just one over the previous five seasons combined. Under his leadership, the club has seen significant growth in season ticket sales (increase of more than 200 percent), group tickets (increase of more than 60 percent), and corporate partnerships (more than 50 new partnerships added). Shelton has also helped the club rededicate itself to customer service and has more than tripled the number of in-game promotions, resulting in a dramatically improved fan experience.
“We are absolutely thrilled that the clubs in the Carolina League have selected Ryan as the winner of this year’s award,” said Tim Zue, managing director of the Salem Red Sox and senior vice president of Fenway Sports Management. “Ryan has had a transformational impact on our entire organization and the results that he has achieved over such a short time period have greatly exceeded all of our lofty expectations.”
In addition to his business successes, Shelton has also helped to introduce a number of new initiatives that more closely connect the club to its fans and the broader Salem community, including: 1) a comprehensive military appreciation program incorporating the club’s Salute to Heroes, Military Card set giveaway, and Freedom Fridays initiatives; 2) enhanced player involvement through the new Community Service Player of the Month program that has more than doubled the number of player appearances; and 3) more comprehensive fundraising programs that have helped raise more than $250,000 for deserving local non-profit organizations over the past two seasons. The club also continues to serve the community in times of healing as the 2015 season began with the team wearing special hats as a remembrance of the Virginia Tech shootings and ended with a moment of silence and a “7” symbol painted on the field honoring the tragic deaths of WDBJ’s Alison Parker and Adam Ward.
“Ryan’s impact on our community through his work at the Salem Red Sox has been truly remarkable,” said Randy Foley, Mayor of the City of Salem. “He played an integral role in finalizing the lease extension that will keep the club in Salem through 2024, and has been instrumental in facilitating a stronger connection between the club and our residents. I could not think of anyone better suited to lead the club into the future.”
Shelton began his career in sports in 2008 working as an Inside Sales representative for the Florida Marlins. He quickly established himself as a rising star and worked his way up the ranks at the Augusta Lynx, South Carolina Sting Rays, and Manchester Monarchs where he served as the Senior Director of Ticket Sales. He was hired in Salem as the Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service in April of 2013 before ascending to the role of General Manager in August of that year.
In 2006 the Carolina League named its executive of the year award in honor of Calvin Falwell who served as president of the Lynchburg club since that city joined the league in 1966. Calvin Falwell died at the age of 90 on August 20, 2011.