The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Class AAA; International League) have announced three new members of their ownership group, including former major leaguer Andy Ashby.
Chuck Cohen and Steve Somers also were announced as new members of the team’s ownership.
Ashby spent parts of the 1991 and 1992 seasons with the then-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons during his rise with the Philadelphia Phillies. He also pitched for the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers over 14 seasons in the big leagues. Ashby has since served as a studio analyst for the Padres and as a game analyst for the RailRiders. He was an All-Star for the Padres in both 1998 and 1999, with the former going down as his best MLB season when he finished 17-9 with a 3.34 ERA, five complete games and 226.2 innings pitched. His 4.8 WAR (wins above replacement) ranked eighth in the NL that season per Baseball-Reference.com.
“It’s a new challenge for me,” said Ashby. “It’s something I’m excited about. I’ve played here and spent time in the majors, I think I can bring something to the table. As a player, now being on the other side of it, if there are questions about the player needs, I think I can help out. But I’m a rookie as an owner. I’m going to sit back and ask questions. I’m here to try and promote the ballclub. I don’t think you can ask for a better venue than what we have here. I’m going to get out in the community, meet people and spread the word about RailRiders baseball.”
Charles “Chuck” Cohen is managing director and third-generation owner of Benco Dental Company, the nation’s largest independently-owned dental distributor, and Clarion Financial, a sister company offering financing to dentists. Founded in 1930 by Benjamin Cohen, Benco serves over 25,000 dental offices and dental laboratories across the United States. The company is based in Northeastern Pennsylvania with locations in 40 states. A graduate of Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School and the University of Pennsylvania, Charles joined Benco as a territory representative in 1989. After taking on management roles in the company’s sales and marketing department, he assumed a senior leadership role in 1997; since that time, the company’s revenues have quadrupled. Charles chairs the board of the Center for Research and Education in Technology, a dental-trade group focused on introducing new technology into North American dental schools. He also serves on the board of Wilkes University, the Jewish Federation of Wilkes-Barre, the Advisory Board of the Seattle Study Club, and the Pennsylvania chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization. He has been awarded the Outstanding Young Leader award by the Jewish Federation of Wilkes-Barre (2001), the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania (2002), and the Wyoming Seminary Outstanding Young Alumnus award (1999). Charles and his wife Rebecca live in Allentown with their son Benjamin & daughter Leah. Together they enjoy skiing, sailing, traveling, and biking.
“I’m so pleased and proud to have joined a championship team like the RailRiders,” said Cohen. “And the team isn’t just well-managed on the field. The entire operation is first-class, from the maintenance crew to the food service team to the ticket sellers. I’m excited to see us win for many years to come.”
Somers is the owner and President of Vigon. With an M.S. in analytical chemistry, he began his career on the technical side of the flavor and fragrance industry, eventually ending up at Givaudan. He moved rapidly up through the organization, being appointed as the business director of Givaudan’s fragrance ingredient division and soon after promoted to director of sales for North America. In pursuit of his vision of creating a unique and progressive company, he purchased Vigon International in 1998. Under Steve’s leadership, the company has since become one of the industry’s fastest-growing companies.
“My love of baseball has motivated be to pursue this opportunity,” said Somers. “It is a dream to be a part owner of a team affiliated with the most storied franchise in all of sports, the New York Yankees.”
The ownership additions were welcomed by another member of the team’s local ownership, Bob Mills.
“My fellow partners and I are very excited with the addition of Steve, Chuck and Andy to our ownership team,” said Mills. “All three gentlemen have a passion for baseball and, more importantly, a passion for baseball to be successful in Northeast Pennsylvania. Steve brings considerable insight into the Poconos and Stroudsburg markets, and will help Josh (Olerud) and Jeremy (Ruby) in the continued expansion of the RailRiders’ brand in those markets. Chuck will provide the SWB RailRiders’ management team with an immense amount of knowledge of the Northeast PA business community and its leadership. And Andy provides the front office with Major League insight into the baseball operations and, more importantly, a relationship to the history of NEPA baseball thru his playing days here with the Red Barons.”