In Richmond, Jon Laaser — the Voice of the Flying Squirrels since the team’s inception in 2010 — has been named the new lead broadcaster for Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball. Laaser 35, will follow the iconic Bill Roth in the Hokies broadcast booth. His experienced broadcast partner, Jay Burnham, will take over as the Voice of the Squirrels upon Laaser’s departure following Eastern League All-Star break.
“To say I am exceptionally excited to become the voice of the Hokies would be a gross understatement,” Laaser said. “However, leaving a team that I had the great fortune to help build will certainly be bittersweet. The Diamond has been my home for the last six years, and the Squirrels and Giants have been my family. It has been an honor to be their voice, and I am heartened that my great friend Jay Burnham will be the one carrying on our proud broadcast tradition. In baseball, we don’t say goodbye, we say so long for now. And with Hokie Nation so present in Richmond, that is definitely true for me.”
“This is a great day not only for Laas and Virginia tech but for the Squirrels as well,” said Flying Squirrels VP & COO Todd “Parney” Parnell. “Jon is an example of how hard work and dedication beyond the norm is exhibited daily in the Flying Squirrels organization and while we will miss him professionally as well as personally, he is an example to others of the progression that can be made in your career and life. We are very proud of him and look forward to Jay carrying the flag in his own inspired way. We are fortunate to have Jay here to further what Laas has started.”
“Normally it is a great disappointment to lose someone of Jon’s caliber,” said Squirrels Chief Executive Chuck Domino. “But to see Jon get an opportunity like this is really exciting. I consider Jon a friend and I look forward to watching his talents flourish to a wider audience.”
In Troy, the ValleyCats promoted Rick Murphy to Chief Operating Officer / Executive Vice President, and Matt Callahan to General Manager.
“Rick has been the key man in the successful operation of the ValleyCats. His business judgement and ability to deal positively with our staff and our fans has been outstanding,” said ValleyCats President Bill Gladstone. “Matt has stepped comfortably into his managerial role, and his teaming up with Rick has given us one of the strongest management teams in Minor League Baseball.”
Murphy, 52, is entering his 27th season in professional baseball, and was instrumental in the move that brought the ValleyCats franchise to Troy from Pittsfield in 2002.
“I would like to thank Bill Gladstone for the confidence in the promotion to the position of COO/Executive Vice President,” said Murphy. “Secondly, I would like to congratulate Matt Callahan on his promotion to GM. Matt has demonstrated the aptitude and attitude necessary to successfully expand the ValleyCats franchise. His eight years with the ValleyCats has allowed him to gain a thorough understanding of the ValleyCats brand and the sports management business.”
Murphy was named the New York-Penn League Executive of the Year in 2008, and was a NYPL Robert F. Julian Community & Baseball Service Award winner in 2011. He currently serves as chairman of the New York-Penn League Schedule Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors for Minor League Baseball’s BIRCO (Baseball Internet Rights Corporation), the Albany Police Athletic League, Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Berkshire Hills Bancorp, the parent of Berkshire Bank.
Callahan, 33, has spent the past four seasons as the ValleyCats Assistant General Manager, helping to oversee all aspects of the ValleyCats operation as well as their relationship with the Houston Astros.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank Bill Gladstone, Rick Murphy, and the other members of our ownership group,” Callahan said. “We have a great staff in place and I am excited to continue working with our team towards a successful 2015 season.”
A native of Hingham, Massachusetts, and graduate of Boston College, Callahan has been a part of the ValleyCats organization since 2008, joining the club as an Account Executive and serving as the Business Development Manager prior to his role as Assistant GM. In 2012 he was named New York-Penn League’s Sam Nader Executive of the Year. Callahan is a recent graduate of the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute and current sits on the Board of Advisors for the Troy Family YMCA.