Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders‘ president/general manager Josh Olerud has won the 2017 Dave Rosenfield International League Executive of the Year. His selection was made in a vote by his league peers at the International League Fall meeting prior to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game.
The 2017 RailRiders opened the season with the biggest crowd PNC Field has seen since its 2012 reconstruction, an overflow gathering of 11,515 against the rival Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies) on April 10. On the season, the 2017 RailRiders drew 439,412 fans over 68 openings for an average of 6,462. This year’s attendance figures represented a jump of over 6% in per-game attendance from the 2016 national championship-winning season (6,071) and a more than 12% leap from 2015’s per-game average (5,753).
The team capped off the season with the immense success of hosting this season’s Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. The event brought national attention and television exposure to the team, PNC Field and NEPA. Despite the hometown RailRiders falling just short of the biggest game in minor league baseball, the crowd still made for a more-than fixed-seat sellout at 9,383.
Olerud joined the RailRiders staff in November of 2015 as the COO. He came to the RailRiders from the Advanced-A Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals), where he spent the prior five years as their executive vice president and general manager.
“On behalf of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders ownership group, we are proud to announce that our team president Josh Olerud has been named the International League Executive of the Year”, said David Abrams, co-managing owner of the RailRiders. “It is a great honor for Josh to receive this recognition, as it is determined by a vote of his peers. We are proud of what Josh and his staff have accomplished in the past year and are very excited to have Josh lead this franchise to continued success going forward.”
No stranger to the hardware, Olerud received the 2013 Calvin Falwell Executive of the Year Award in the Advanced-A Carolina League. That season, he helped the Potomac Nationals break a franchise attendance record with creative marketing and a fully-loaded promotional schedule. Olerud was also honored with the Minor League Executive of the Year Award by the Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago for his work in 2012.
“To be named the recipient of the Dave Rosenfield International League Executive of the Year Award is an extraordinary honor and I am extremely humbled,” said Olerud. “The IL has some of the brightest and most-decorated executives in professional sports, to receive this award is a testament to the unbelievably passionate staff I am blessed to work with. I want to take this time to thank the fans and sponsors for all of their support, but most importantly the RailRiders staff for their dedication and perseverance in making RailRiders baseball a special place in the community and Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Olerud got his start in professional baseball with the Rockford RiverHawks of the Frontier League. His highlights with the RiverHawks included a Frontier League Championship in 2004, opening the new RiverHawks Stadium in 2006, hosting the circuit’s All-Star game in 2009, and leading the RiverHawks in their transition from the Frontier League to the Northern League in 2010. Originally hailing from Bloomington, Minn., Olerud graduated with a degree in sports management with an emphasis in marketing from Minnesota State University at Mankato.
“To me, the greatest aspect of being recognized as the league’s Executive of the Year is the fact that it comes from one’s peers,” said IL president Randy Mobley. “Josh receiving this award, now named after our dear friend and colleague Dave Rosenfield, is a statement that his fellow directors recognize what he is doing and what is being accomplished by this franchise under his leadership. Josh has been a welcome addition to the International League within the past few years and I look forward to all that he has to offer the RailRiders and the International League in the years to come.”
When the namesake of the IL’s top executive honor, Dave Rosenfield, passed away on February 28, 2017, the IL lost what is believed to be the longest-serving executive in its 134-year history. Of Dave’s 61 seasons in minor league baseball, 48 were spent in the IL. Among the many honors he received in his lifetime, he was named the industry’s 2004 “King of Baseball” and elected to the IL Hall of Fame in 2008.
Rosenfield was one of a handful of leaders in the IL that navigated the business challenges within minor league baseball in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, positioning the league and industry for the success and accomplishments of more recent times. He is a four-time recipient of the award the league voted to name in his honor (1975, 1982, 1987, 1993). At the time of his passing, Rosenfield was serving as the IL’s vice president and finance committee chairman, positions he’d held for over four decades as the Tides’ long-standing member of the IL’s board of directors. Rosenfield also manually developed the International League playing schedule from 1969 through 2016.