Longtime Easton Sports executive Jim Darby was honored with the 2019 ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award at the 75th annual ABCA Convention in Dallas, Texas on Friday, January 4, 2019 as part of the ABCA/Diamond Hall of Fame Banquet. Darby spent nearly four decades at Easton and is recognized as a pioneer in sports marketing for transforming Easton into a powerhouse in the sports manufacturing industry.
Named after the great Lefty Gomez, this annual award is presented to an individual who has distinguished himself among his peers and has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally and internationally.
Darby joined Curley-Bates Company, a sporting goods marketing and distribution company, in December 1977 as a National Promotion Manager. He was tasked with introducing two new brands to the U.S. market, Easton bats and Mizuno gear. After being promoted to Vice President of Marketing & Promotions in 1981, Easton bought Curley-Bates in 1985 to create Easton Sports.
In his role, Darby signed agreements with over 100 Major League Baseball players to endorse Easton and Mizuno products. He also played an integral role in designing the agreement with USA Baseball for Easton to serve as the official bat of the U.S. National teams in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Darby, the 1997 ABCA Meritorious Service Award recipient, also established agreements with major amateur baseball organizations such as the ABCA, Little League, PONY, Babe Ruth, Dixie, AABC, USSSA and others.
Darby also served as the Chair of the PR Committee for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) Baseball & Softball Council. In his position, Darby represented the SGMA when discussing performance parameters and safety records of non-wood bats with numerous state legislatures and baseball governing bodies. He has also served as a color analyst for the 1988 World Baseball Championships in Parma, Italy, National Junior College Athletic Association World Series and American Legion World Series.
Darby has been recognized for his accomplishments with induction into several Halls of Fame, including the National High School Baseball Coaches Association, United States Sports Specialties Association and the Men’s Senior Baseball. In 2017, Little League Baseball honored Darby with the Hartman Friendship Award.
Past ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award Winners