Burlington, NC - The Appalachian League powered by MLB and USA Baseball announced its League Awards for the 2021 season today with the Burlington Sock Puppets winning the Promotional Award. This award is given out yearly to the Club with the most outstanding promotional work throughout the season. Criteria for the award includes In-Season and Off-Season marketing campaigns, Game Day Promotions, On-Field Activities, Radio, TV and Newspaper Exposure, community relations, and social media activity. The Sock Puppets saw unprecedented media exposure and grew their fanbase exponentially in just the 5 months since they rebranded.


Burlington’s accolades across the season include the following; 

  • Ranked 3rd in Attendance among the league however;
  • The Sock Puppets were one of seven teams to increase their attendance from 2019 to 2021 (2020 no season due to COVID) and the only team in the top three highest attendance getters (Pulaski and Johnson City) to increase their average attendance. 
  • The Sock Puppets were the only organization along with Kingsport to increase their average attendance by over 35%
  • Reached franchise highs in Season Tickets, Sponsorship, and merchandise sales.
  • Launched the most successful Appalachian Team rebrands with being highlighted in/on People.com, the Bob & Tom national radio show, Yahoo Sports, ESPN, Barstool and more. 
  • Grew to be substantially the largest Social Media Presence in the Appalachian League across the three main channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) -- over 20% larger followership than any other team.
  • Including growing its own Twitter following by over 70% since February 1st. 
  • Over 23 million Impressions from Feb 1, 2021 to Aug 20, 2021 on Twitter alone. 
  • Thousands of media mentions across the world including highlights from the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom. 
  • Shipped merchandise to all 50 states, including 2 international countries. 
  • Debuted one of the most action packed Promotional Calendars featuring 7 firework shows, two specialty jersey nights, multiple promotional giveaways and had the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Cup Series Winning Driver AJ Allmendinger out for a night. 
  • Were the only team to play all scheduled Home Games thanks to a Groundscrew and playing surface that is among the best in the league. 
  • Created the first ever Sales Academy in conjunction with Elon University.
  • Raised thousands of dollars for local charities and families within their community. 

“I am extremely proud to work for one-of, if not the best, organizations in the league,” said General Manager, Anderson Rathbun. “From ownership, to our internship class, to our game-day staff, to Thomas (Vickers, Assistant General Manager), to Casey (Gural, Head Groundskeeper) and the rest of our grounds crew, there wasn’t an area within our Club that didn’t excel day in, and day out.” On winning the Promotion Award, Rathbun said the following; “This is an incredible honor and we are grateful to be recognized with this award. Ever since we launched the Sock Puppets brand, we knew we wanted to be different and do things in a unique way not only to attract the media’s attention, but to give our fans a SOCKingly different brand to interact with and a SOCKingly different baseball experience to enjoy… and I think we did that and then some this year.” 

For Anderson, Thomas, Ryan Keur (Team Owner) and the rest of the crew, this is only the beginning. “Ryan brought Thomas and myself up here to put energy back into the franchise here in community and to provide an atmosphere and venue that people in Alamance County and the City of Burlington are proud to have in their backyard.” Rathbun Said. “This year was wildly successful in so many ways, but we are just getting started. We have a lot of surprises we are already working on for the 2022 season and we can guarantee that each year will be SOCKingly different and better than the last.”

About the Burlington Sock Puppets

The Burlington Sock Puppets were launched February 1, 2021 when the Appalachian League went under MLB and USA Baseball direction as a Premier Collegiate Summer League. Their Inaugural Season, presented by Visit Alamance, saw an increase in attendance by over 35% and welcomed nearly 45,000 fans across  27 games. The Burlington Sock Puppets call Burlington Athletic Stadium their home in Burlington, North Carolina and Alamance County. To learn more about the Sock Puppets, visit them at gosockpuppets.com or on their social media @GoSockPuppets. To learn more about what makes Alamance County special, check out visitalamance.com