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Indians Mourn the Loss of Former Front Office Executive Cal Burleson

November 8, 2021 - International League (IL) - Indianapolis Indians News Release

INDIANAPOLIS - With great sadness, the Indianapolis Indians share that Cal Burleson - a front office member of the organization for 45 seasons (1975-2019) - passed away Sunday night from complications due to a cancer diagnosis he received last December. He was 71 years old.

Burleson was first hired by the Indians as ticket manager and began with the team on New Year's Day, 1975. He served in that capacity for two years before taking over duties as business manager from 1977-80 and publicity director from 1981-86.

Burleson then ascended to the organization's executive level as assistant general manager from 1987-97. In 1998, he was named the third general manager in Indians history and held that role through the 2014 campaign, twice being named the International League Executive of the Year (2000, '13). In 2015-16, Burleson assumed duties as vice president of baseball and administrative affairs, functioning as the team's representative with the Pittsburgh Pirates and International League office. He spent his final three seasons with Indy as senior vice president of community affairs, expanding his efforts of relating Indians baseball to community leaders and civic groups.

"Cal left an indelible mark on not only the Indians but all of Central Indiana. His legacy extends far beyond the Indians and his passing is felt by so many individuals in professional baseball," said Indianapolis Indians CEO and Chairman of the Board Bruce Schumacher. "Our thoughts are with his wife Mai, daughter Heather and two granddaughters, and the many friends, fans, community leaders and children who were fortunate enough to cross paths and be positively influenced by Cal over the years."

The Indians thrived on and off the field under Burleson's leadership. He witnessed eight of the organization's 13 league championships (1982, '84, '86-89, '94, 2000), and his marketing prowess was instrumental in the team's successful move from Bush Stadium to Victory Field, where he helped take attendance levels to new heights with franchise-record figures in 2014 (660,289) and '15 (662,536). Those record-setting numbers came on the heels of the Indians being named the 2013 Triple-A recipients of the Bob Freitas Award, presented to the organization with the best overall operations.

"There is one overarching word that comes to mind when remembering Cal - passion. He approached everything in his life with a great deal of passion. He was passionate about his family, impacting generations of individuals in the Indianapolis community and driving the Indians to success on and off the field," said Indianapolis Indians President and General Manager Randy Lewandowski. "In true Cal fashion, he tackled his cancer diagnosis head-on. Much like his desire for the Indians to compete until the final out, he showed fight, grit and determination to beat his diagnosis from start to finish. He was a mentor to many and will be sorely missed."

In addition to his work with the team, Burleson held various leadership roles in the community over recent years. He served as chairman of the board for the American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis and was a board member of the Indianapolis and Indiana Chambers of Commerce, the Indianapolis Urban League, the Military Family Research Institute and Jump IN for Healthy Kids, an initiative aimed at combating childhood obesity in Central Indiana. He also served on the Triple-A Marketing Committee.

Burleson's passion for promoting healthy lifestyles for children was a key factor in the development and launch of RightFit - an after-school program that creates an opportunity for hundreds of elementary school students to build positive relationships with public safety personnel and fight childhood obesity through nutrition-oriented education and physical activity.

Celebration of Life arrangements are being finalized and will be shared in the coming days.

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