By Marty Gordon
The Appalachian League has announced that two new members have been elected to the league’s Hall of Fame: former Major League pitcher CC Sabathia and former Major League manager Jim Leyland.
“It is truly an honor to announce our 2022 class of the Appalachian League Hall of Fame,” said Bristol State Liners President/GM and Appalachian League HOF Committee Chairman Mahlon Luttrell. “These two individuals are being recognized for the valuable contributions they have made to the continued development and success of the Appalachian League.”
CC Sabathia: Drafted by Cleveland in the first round (20th overall) of the 1998 MLB Draft, Sabathia made his professional debut that season in Burlington, N.C., at age 17. He went 1-0 in five starts, striking out 35 in 18 innings. Sabathia compiled a career record of 251-161 with 3,093 strikeouts in 19 MLB seasons for Cleveland, Milwaukee, and New York (AL).
He received six All-Star selections and was a three-time Warren Spahn Award winner (given annually to baseball’s best left-handed pitcher). Sabathia won the American League Cy Young Award with Cleveland in 2007 at age 26, going 19-7. He was the 2009 ALCS MVP and won a World Series title with the Yankees that season.
Sabathia established The PitCCh In Foundation in 2008. The foundation showcases three signature programs that provide young people with the tools to be successful in school and on the field: the All-Star Baseball Clinic, the Youth Backpack Program, and Field Renovations. In addition, Sabathia has supported numerous philanthropic organizations and worthwhile causes, including the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Toys for Tots and the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.).
“I am excited to be inducted into the Appalachian League Hall of Fame,” said Sabathia. “My time in Burlington was the first stop in my professional baseball career, and it brings back great memories to receive this honor.”
Jim Leyland: Leyland began his managerial career in the Appalachian League with the Bristol Tigers in 1971 at age 26, guiding the team to a 31-35 record. He served as a coach for the Chicago White Sox from 1982-85 and garnered National League Manager of the Year honors with Pittsburgh in 1990 and ‘92, and was named the AL Manager of the Year with Detroit in 2006. Leyland managed 3,499 Major League Baseball games for the Pirates, Marlins, Tigers, and Rockies, recording 1,769 wins in 22 seasons. He is the only manager to win a World Series (Marlins, 1997) and the World Baseball Classic (2017, USA) title. In 2017, Leyland was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
The Appalachian League has announced the hiring of Justin Morgenstern as the new director of player personnel.
Morgenstern joins the Appalachian League from the Philadelphia Phillies where he has been an area scout since 2016. Morgenstern spent his first three years with the organization covering the Upper Midwest region before transitioning to the Northeast in 2020. Prior to working for the Phillies, Morgenstern was a professional scout for the Atlanta Braves. He also worked for Major League Baseball in 2015 where he oversaw all operations for the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.
“We’re excited to welcome Justin to the Appalachian League as the director of player personnel,” said executive director Brian Graham. “Not only does he bring a proven track record of identifying talent at both the amateur and the professional level, but he also brings with him an outstanding network to help elevate the league to the next level.”
Morgenstern arrives having previously worked in the Appalachian League as a media relations trainee with the Danville Braves in 2011. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories of the Appy League, and I’m honored to be able to come back in a different capacity,” Morgenstern said. “The Appalachian League has tremendous growth potential from not just a fan entertainment perspective but also for the collegiate players who step on the diamond every night. I can’t wait to help build and provide those opportunities.”
An Indiana University graduate, Morgenstern currently resides in Jersey City, N.J., with his wife, Alex, and son, Cole.
The Appalachian League is a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP), the collaborative effort between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball that establishes a player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States. It is an integral part of the identification and development process for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and other future national teams.
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