Sod Poodles Tony Ensor Named 2019 Bill Valentine Texas League Executive of the Year
FORT WORTH, Tex. - The Texas League of Professional Baseball Clubs announced today Sod Poodles President and General Manager, Tony Ensor, as the 2019 Bill Valentine Texas League Executive of the Year. The award, named after Texas League Hall of Famer, Bill Valentine, was voted on by the leaders of the eight-team Texas League and presented to Ensor at the annual postseason league meetings in Seattle. The accolade recognizes a successful season in the areas of leadership, attendance, marketing initiatives, promotions, facility enhancements, game day experience, community involvement, and overall baseball operations. Historically, Ensor becomes the first-ever Texas League Executive of the Year from an Amarillo club since the award was instituted in 1965.
"On behalf of the Texas League, I congratulate Tony for being selected as the honoree for this prestigious award," Purpura said. "I've enjoyed getting to know and work closely with Tony since the team's move to Amarillo and the opening of HODGETOWN. This award is very well deserved, and we look forward to following many more successes from him and his staff in Amarillo."
"It is a humbling honor to receive this award," said Ensor. "This is a testament to the hard work of our ownership, Elmore Sports Group, who entrusted me in leading this franchise, and to our young incredible staff, whose creativity and work ethic made this one of the best teams and brands in Minor League Baseball. And, to our fans, I can't say enough to thank them for their passion and support that has created one of the most special homes for professional baseball in the country."
With over 30 years in the game, Ensor has shown long-standing and consistent success in baseball, previously guiding his former Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox franchise to the prestigious Baseball America Bob Freitas Triple-A Organization of the Year honor in 2011.
The 2019 season was yet another historic year for Ensor. In Amarillo's first affiliated, professional baseball season since 1982, with the support of city and community of Amarillo, he spearheaded what was to be one of the most successful inaugural seasons, team names, logos, and community-oriented brands in Minor League Baseball.
In Amarillo, Ensor oversaw an organization that recorded a level of achievement that few teams have ever reached in connecting with a city. Along with his community connection, his initiatives for corporate sales, group sales, season ticket sales, and multi-level marketing along with long-term partnerships paved a path for franchise success for years to come.
From the ground up, Ensor built a staff of 27 of the best young professionals from all over the country as his executive full-time staff while partnering with the San Diego Padres, who were rated with the best farm system in the country.
In February 2018, he began a close partnership with the City of Amarillo and collaborative oversight of the construction of the new, state-of-the-art, $45.5 million-dollar ballpark in downtown Amarillo, which was completed on time (~13 months) for the inaugural April 8 home opener. In March of 2018, work began on building one of the most unique and successful brands in all of baseball. The iconic Sod Poodles brand as seen through its merchandise program is one of the top-selling brands in baseball, reaching across all 50-states and more than six countries.
Under his guidance in the inaugural season, the team received multiple honors including being voted as the Best Minor League Team Name by MLB Fox Sports and Best Double-A Ballpark by Ballpark Digest and chosen by league peers for Best Visiting Clubhouse, Umpire Clubhouse, and Best Visiting Team Hotel. Additionally, under his tutelage, HODGETOWN drew 40 total sellouts, including 23 consecutive, throughout the 2019 campaign, averaging over 6,200 fans per game and, combined with playoffs, welcomed a Double-A second-best of nearly 450,000 fans through the gates in a market size of 200,000 people.
Through Sod Poodles charitable programs, over $200,000 of cash donations will be donated directly into the Amarillo Charity Community.
The storybook year was capped off with the Sod Poodles defeating the Tulsa Drillers in comeback fashion in a decisive game five to become the newest Texas League Champions and bring a title back to Amarillo for the first time in nearly four decades.
The Texas League honor marks the second consecutive season and sixth overall since 1989 that an Elmore-affiliated executive has won the award.
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