The Pacific Association has named a new commissioner, appointing Jonathan Stone to the role. Stone, a San Francisco businessman and marketing specialist, was named to the position in a unanimous vote by league owners on Monday, May 1.
Stone’s immediate role will be managing expansion, while promoting the league, which is entering its fifth season in 2017. The Pacific Association is set to welcome its fifth team, the Napa Silverados, in 2018, and is evaluating other markets and potential investors for a sixth team as well. Stone feels the league is primed for growth.
“The Pacific Association is in a great position. We are the last remaining independent league on the West Coast, and we’re entering our fifth season,” Stone said. “The ownership and stability of the league has never been stronger. With a commitment of Napa to be a fifth team in 2018, we will be fielding six teams in 2018, with a goal of growing the league to eight teams in the Bay Area.”
“On behalf of the clubs of the Pacific Association, I’m overjoyed to have Jonathan Stone join our league as Commissioner,” said San Rafael Pacifics managing general partner, Eugene Lupario, who is the league’s longest tenured executive. “We are confident that the Pacific Association will greatly benefit from his wide-ranging experience and commitment as we continue our efforts to build the league and meet the challenges of sustaining independent minor league baseball in the Bay Area.”
Stone brings over three decades of marketing experience. In 2014 he sold his San Francisco business of 26 years, Another Dancing Bear Productions, a nationally recognized leader in the promotional advertising industry. Team owners and front offices are hopeful Stone can channel his experience into continued growth and sustainability for the league. Additionally, he will be charged with forging league and corporate partnerships.
A strong desire to work and a passion for baseball lured him to the North Bay, where he learned about the Sonoma Stompers. Soon thereafter, Stone grew excited by the league and its prospects, and became closely involved in the operations in Sonoma. In 2015, Stone served as a consultant on marketing, merchandising and fan experience for Sonoma. In 2016, he worked in sponsorship sales, and served as the team’s Host Family Coordinator.
In San Francisco, Stone served on the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce as well as many other business, charitable and non-profit organizations. He has represented the Stompers in several Sonoma related projects. The Newton, Mass. native currently resides in Sonoma, where the league office will be.
Since 2013, the Pacific Association has served as a laboratory of innovation and progressive practices. In 2015, during a series with the San Rafael Pacifics and Vallejo Admirals, the Pacific Association became the first professional league to use robotic umpires, and a computer-automated strike zone. A year later, HBO featured the experiment for an episode on Real Sports.
In 2015, the Sonoma Stompers turned over the reins of baseball operations to statistically inclined baseball writers, Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller. The two documented the experience in the New York Times Best-selling book, “The Only Rule Is It Has to Work.”
In 2016 the league hired the first female manager, Justine Siegal (San Rafael), and the Stompers became the first pro men’s team to roster multiple women since the Negro Leagues in the 1950s (Stacy Piagno, Kelsie Whitmore and Anna Kimbrell).
The Pittsburg Diamonds have been managed and led on the field by Aaron Miles, who played more than nine seasons in the Major Leagues with the White Sox, Rockies, Cardinals, Cubs and Dodgers. Miles played in 135 games with the World Champion Cardinals in 2006, and finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2004 with Colorado.
The league has promoted more than 60 players to higher levels of baseball, including several players to MLB organizations in 2016. Nearly a dozen former Major League Baseball players have played in the Pacific Association. Most notably, Jose Canseco, Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee, Eric Byrnes, Tony Philips, and former San Francisco Giants, Tony Torcato and Wayne Franklin. Miles also played for Pittsburg in 2014. In 2014, Lee became the oldest pitcher to win a professional game when he started for the Stompers in August that year.
In the two-plus years of Kevin Reilly’s tenure as owner and proprietor of the Vallejo Admirals, the team has enjoyed strong growth in attendance and sponsorship support. Admirals games also serve the Vallejo community as a great opportunity to recognize local and civic-minded achievements, as well as honor students, leaders in the business community and philanthropy.