With the Texas League season nearing its halfway point, league president Tom Kayser is getting closer to the conclusion of his 25-season run.
During December’s Winter Meetings, Kayser announced that the 2016 season would be his last. As we noted at the time, his tenure has been remarkably successful. Since he took over, league-wide attendance for the Double-A circuit has seen a major increase, rising from 1.7 to 2.8 million fans annually. Furthermore, all eight teams have opened new ballparks under Kayser’s watch, including seven since 2002.
Kayser has been in the minors since 1976, when he first received a position as business manager with the Berkshire Brewers (Class AA; Eastern League). The industry has grown rapidly over that period and even more changes are looming, particularly in the Texas League, where the Elmore Sports Group is working on a plan for a new ballpark that would allow the San Antonio Missions to become a Triple-A franchise.
For his part, Kayser is confident that the league will continue to prosper in the aftermath of his retirement. More from the San Antonio Express-News:
“It’s been a good run, but it’s time for me to step aside and let a fresh voice come in and lead the league,” said Kayser, who was just beginning a multiyear agreement when he decided to retire. “This has been the second Golden Age of the Texas League, in terms of stability and economic success. I’m proud to be a part of that.
“But everybody recognizes when it’s time to go. After 25 years, I found certain aspects of what I do more challenging than I wanted or not as much fun as I wanted. If you’re doubting reasons for staying, then maybe it’s time to go.”
He said he’s not worried about the future of the league, despite the looming possibility of the Missions, the oldest remaining charter member of the Texas League dating back to 1888, relocating should the city land a Triple-A team in the future.
“It’s a natural evolution,” Kayser said of the Missions’ possible move. “It would be tough to see San Antonio, the most historic of Texas League cities, leave. I don’t have to like it, but you don’t want to stand in the way of progress.
“If that day comes, it’ll be sad. But you move on.”
Kayser will retire as the longest serving president in Texas League history. The previous record was held by J. Alvin Gardner, who led the league for 21 seasons.
The league has not announced who will take Kayser’s place. According to the News-Express, the league has formed a three-person committee to find his successor.