DAYTON, Ohio – Dayton Dragons President & General Manager Robert Murphy has been selected by Ballpark Digest as the 2019 Baseball Executive of the Year. This honor is awarded annually by Ballpark Digest to one individual from among all leagues in professional baseball.
Murphy has now been selected for this top honor by two different media outlets in back-to-back years. He was named by Baseball America as the 2018 Minor League Baseball Executive of the Year. Murphy was also named as the Minor League Baseball Executive of the Year by the Sporting News in 2005.
Ballpark Digest was launched in 2002 and has become a go-to source for information on baseball business news and information for the Major Leagues, Minor Leagues, professional independent leagues, college and summer collegiate baseball. Ballpark Digest is also a primary source for baseball attendance information, future ballpark construction/expansion, and new baseball franchise market development.
The Ballpark Digest award is being presented to Murphy following the Dragons 20th anniversary season in 2019. Murphy arrived in Dayton in 1999 to oversee the Dragons start-up and inaugural season the following year, and he has directed the Dragons day-to-day operations for each season of the organization’s record-breaking history.
Under Murphy’s leadership, the Dragons have produced the longest streak of consecutive sold-out dates in North American sports history. The Dragons broke the previous record for consecutive sold-out dates held by the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA on July 9, 2011 when the Dragons completed their 815th straight sell-out. The sell-out streak is still active after the completion of the 2019 season, currently standing at 1,385 straight games.
“The Dayton Dragons have been one of the biggest success stories in all of professional sports since the team’s launch, and Robert Murphy has been central to that success,” said Ballpark Digest publisher Kevin Reichard.
“He’s overseen the team’s operations since the team’s inception, and the team’s current sellout streak represents an impressive accomplishment that may never be matched.”
The Dragons have become known for providing affordable family entertainment at Fifth Third Field with a commitment to unsurpassed customer service that has become a trademark of the organization. The Dragons have also prioritized strong involvement with three longtime traditions, including the Dragons School MVP program, Anthem Home Run for Life, and the Dragons Hometown Heroes program.
Murphy offered appreciation to Ballpark Digest and credited the Dragons staff for this honor.
“Thanks to Ballpark Digest for recognizing the Dragons achievements with this honor,” said Murphy. “When all is said and done, our organization’s success results from an amazing group of people executing at high levels. The Dragons staff is a smart, hardworking, character-driven group that is always professional in everything they do. I could not be more proud or more blessed to work with this group.”
“We are thankful to have the Cincinnati Reds as our affiliate and we are proud to be associated with a franchise that holds such historic significance within our sport. We also extend our appreciation to our partners in the Midwest League and Minor League Baseball, and special thanks to the Dragons ownership group, Palisades Arcadia Baseball, for the great support they give me and our staff.”
As an organization, the Dragons have received numerous national awards. They were given the Bob Freitas Award by Baseball America in 2004 as the top Single-A franchise in Minor League Baseball. In 2011, the Dragons were selected as Minor League Baseball Organization of the Year by Ballpark Digest. In 2012, the Dragons were selected as the winner of the John H. Johnson President’s Award, the highest honor presented annually to one Minor League Baseball team in the nation. That same year, the Dragons were one of five finalists for the SportsBusiness Journal Professional Sports Team of the Year, the first minor league team ever selected as a finalist. The Dragons have received recognition for their support of the military by earning the Midwest League’s nomination for the Minor League Baseball Charles Murphy Patriot Award for three straight seasons, the first three years of the award’s existence.
The Dragons have won many other local and regional awards related to operations, marketing, community involvement, and family entertainment over their history. Most recently, the Dragons were named by Dayton Business Journal as the Miami Valley’s 2018 Customer Service Business of the Year and honored with the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for business integrity and leadership earlier in 2019. Also in 2019, Murphy was named for induction into the Dayton Business Journal Forty-Under-40 Hall-of-Fame, the highest honor in the program.
For 14 straight years, the Dragons have finished first in the nation in season attendance for all Minor League Baseball clubs below the Triple-A level, and their 20 years have marked the top 20 seasons in attendance at the Single-A level in Minor League Baseball history. The Dragons surpassed the 11.5 million mark in all-time attendance in 2019.
The Dragons will open their 21st season in the Midwest League on April 9, 2020 when they host the Great Lakes Loons.