Ken Shepard, whose career in baseball spanned 20-plus years in both independent and affiliated leagues, passed away yesterday afternoon, succumbing to kidney cancer. The Bridgeport Bluefish (independent; Atlantic League) GM was 49.
“Ken fought a valiant fight and handled himself with incredible courage, dignity and grace,” says Bluefish principal owner Frank Boulton. “All of our thoughts and prayers are with Ken’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.”
Shepard had worked in professional baseball for over 20 years. He was GM of several teams, including clubs in Geneva, N.Y., Prince William, Va., Savannah, Ga., Wilmington, Del. and the Atlantic City Surf. A self-professed “innovative risk taker that loves change,” Shepard once slept in a press box in Geneva and vowed to stay there until the team broke its losing streak. The gimmick became national news and helped increase attendance 36 percent over the previous season. Two of Shepard’s operations won the prestigious Larry MacPhail Promotional Award, given to a club each season that demonstrates best promotional efforts in Minor League Baseball.
“The entire Bluefish organization is saddened by the loss of general manager Ken Shepard,” says Bluefish assistant general manager Jamie Toole. “Ken was a great friend to all of us and we will keep him and his family in our thoughts.”
Shepard is survived by his wife, Tonya, daughter, Taylor, 16, and son Travis, 7.
The Bluefish will be honoring Shepard with “Ken Shepard Day” on Sunday, August 14. That day, the Bluefish will be managed by Pete Rose, while wearing commemorative “Ken Shepard” jerseys to be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting the Shepard family. The Atlantic League will be making an announcement prior to the game regarding plans to honor Shepard going forward.
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