Jim Holland had a birthday he will never forget.
The former longtime general manager of the Princeton Rays found out Wednesday he has been selected as part of the 2020 induction class of the Appalachian League Hall of Fame. Holland will join 12 others, including Appy League President Emeritus Lee Landers and current Bluefield Blue Jays President George McGonagle.
Holland was with the Princeton franchise for 24 seasons before joining Beckley’s West Virginia Miners in 2016 as director of marketing and game day operations.
“I am very humbled to be selected for this honor by a league that still means so much to me,” Holland said. “Getting to go to work in baseball administration every day for all these years is an award in its own right. I have met so many fans, players, coaches and colleagues over the years that it already has given me a lifetime of memories and acquaintances that I will never forget.”
Holland’s first season in Princeton was 1992 when the team was a Cincinnati Reds affiliate. Tampa Bay took over after the 1996 season.
In his 24 seasons, Holland was a five-time winner of the league’s Award of Promotional Excellence and was named Appalachian League Executive of the Year in 1993. After he left his position with Princeton in the fall of 2015, Holland was presented with the Appalachian League President’s Award that December for his long-term service to the game.
He was the corporate secretary for the Appalachian league from 2002-12 and a former member of the League’s executive committee.
Among his lasting impacts was the creation of the Mercer Cup in 1992. The trophy goes to the winner of the season series between rivals Princeton and Bluefield each summer.
Holland is the first representative of the Princeton franchise to be selected for the Appy League Hall of Fame.
“It also meant a lot to me to be selected at the same time as George McGonagle of the Bluefield team, and former league presidents Bill Halstead and Lee Landers,” Holland said.
“I worked very closely with them in any way I could to help forward the league in any way that we could.”
Among the Princeton alumni to play during Holland’s tenure are Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who on Tuesday was named American League Manager of the Year, former AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays, former AL Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton and Greenbrier East graduate and former Major League pitcher Seth McClung.
Holland, who turned 62 on Wednesday, was overwhelmed by an eventful and positive day and by the texts and messages of congratulations.
“A person is always making new memories every day when you work in baseball, even in the offseason,” he said. “My wife, Judy, was just asking me last night what my most memorable birthday was. I believe I found the answer today.”
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