Leo Pinckney, Auburn's
"King of Baseball"
Leo Pinckney is easily one of the most important and influential figures in the history of the New York-Penn League.
A lifelong resident of Auburn, New York, Leo was born on Nov. 19, 1917, to George E. and Dolly Burke Pinckney. He was a 1936 graduate of Auburn High School and served his country during World War II as a master sergeant in the Army.
Leo started his career with the Auburn Citizen-Advertiser in 1937 and eventually became sports editor, which he held until his retirement in 1983.
In 1958, when New York baseball was fixated on the loss of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, Pinckney spearheaded a successful fundraising campaign to get Auburn's city team into the New York-Penn League.
"We had a drive and sold stock door-to-door for one dollar apiece," Pinckney told The Daily Star in 2004. "We got something like $5,800 in just a few days."
With the community's enthusiastic response on his side, Pinckney convinced the New York Yankees to sign on as the emerging club's Major League affiliate. Pinckney served as the Auburn Yankees' first president and was later named the president of the New York-Penn League, a position he held from 1984 until 1993. The NY-Penn League named Auburn's division the "Pinckney Division," They also renamed the playing field at Auburn's Falcon Park in his honor.
Since 1995, Auburn's New York-Penn League franchise has gone by the name "Doubledays." Fittingly, the club has won the Pinckney Division in each of the last five seasons (2002-2007). Pinckney himself remained a constant presence at Falcon Park and acted as a role model and advisor to the Minor League employees who followed in his path.
In 1996 Leo was recognized for his 50th year covering the annual Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, NY. The spry 78-year-old was invited to throw out the first pitch of the Hall of Fame Game.
Not long after that memorable highlight, Leo was named the 1998 recipient of Minor League Baseball's prestigious "King of Baseball" award.
Pinckney was a tireless advocate for the sport he loved. In addition to spending 37 years as a sportswriter for The Auburn Citizen, Pinckney was instrumental in bringing a professional sports franchise to his hometown.