Southern League Turns To Webb

Veteran Deputy Becomes First Female League President

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Lori Webb answered the phone this morning at the Southern League office in the same way she has for the past 18 years. This time, however, the woman who has served two league presidents is one herself, becoming the first female league president in minor league baseball history.

The Southern League board of trustees announced the appointment Friday of Webb as president, a role she has essentially held since former president Don Mincher resigned last October. Webb, 56, has served as the league's vice president of operations since 2000, when Mincher was appointed president, and she played a key behind-the-scenes role in recent years as her former boss battled health issues before dying last March.

"I'm thrilled and excited to be selected by my league to lead them," Webb said. "I have been with the league for a long time, so I feel like this is a great way for me to continue going forward with them."

Webb, 56, says she is proud to become the first female league president but admits that she hasn't given her role as a trailblazer much thought.

"If I set the record and open the door for other women in baseball, that is fine," Webb said. "To me, it is a sidebar. But, of course I am very proud to be the first female president."

Webb had no aspirations of becoming a baseball executive when she answered a classified ad for an executive assistant in the Southern League in 1994. She knew little about the business of baseball and submitted her resume to then-president Arnold Fielkow at the urging of her two Little League-playing sons who thought "it would be a cool job," Webb said.

Her knowledge and responsibilities have grown steadily over the years, and she joined or represented Mincher at council of league presidents meetings in recent years. It was Mincher, in fact, who first encouraged Webb to pursue the presidency.

"We had talked about it several times," Webb said. "He was very supportive of me doing that at some point and gave me a lot of good advice."

In many ways Mincher was grooming Webb for the job. Mincher, who previously served as president of the Huntsville Stars, kept his home in Alabama despite the league office being located in Marietta, Ga.

"The way he entrusted responsibility to Lori made it very clear what he thought of her," said Doug Kirchhofer, president of the Tennessee Smokies and chairman of the league's advisory committee.

The Southern League presidency was a hot job in minor league circles, and Webb beat out a talented field of candidates. Kirchhofer declined to discuss the other candidates for the job, but said more than two dozen were considered. 

The league began its search for a new president shortly after Mincher's resignation last October and took its time while searching for the best candidate. It turns out that person was already there.

"We did go through an exhaustive process," Kirchhofer said. "We were not in a hurry because we felt like we had someone watching the store who was qualified in Lori . . .

"We had a quality field to pick from, so it speaks to Lori that we selected her."