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Personnel News: Visalia, Akron

Visalia Rawhide

We have personnel news to report from the Visalia Rawhide (High A; California League) and the Akron RubberDucks (Class AA; Eastern League). 

In Visalia, the Rawhide have named Jill Gearin as their new broadcaster. Gearin will be the first female broadcaster in the 73 year history of the Visalia ballclub, and will join a growing field of women working as broadcasters around Minor League Baseball.

Gearin, a native of Hermosa Beach, CA, went to Emerson College in Boston and graduated with a Bachelors in Broadcast Journalism and a Minor in Sports Communications with a Marketing Communications emphasis while playing softball for the college & serving as Team Captain her Senior year.

While attending school, Gearin took an internship with the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League), as well as spent time working for USA Softball of Massachusetts. This year Gearin has been spending the baseball season as an intern in the broadcast booth of the Boston Red Sox.

Gearin stated, “I’m grateful to the Rawhide organization for the opportunity to join the staff and am excited to be part of a baseball club with such a rich history. I hope to share my love of baseball with the fans and the Visalia community.”

Visalia is no stranger to females working in the male-dominated industry. Team General Manager, Jennifer Reynolds, is one of only five female GMs in Minor League Baseball. “Jill has been a pleasure to get to know, and I am really looking forward to working with her and being a part of her journey as a career Broadcaster. I can already tell that Jill has a sincere passion for the game, a next-to-none work ethic, and a heart for giving back to the community. She’s going to fit in great with our staff here in Visalia!”

Gearin is currently finishing out the Red Sox season in Boston, and will join the team in Visalia on January 1.

In Akron, the RubberDucks have announced several front office additions and promotions for the upcoming 2019 season.

Dave Burke joins the staff as the Vice President, Sales. Burke has more than 28 years of experience in sales and baseball management and he will oversee sales for both the club’s ticketing and corporate partnership areas. He comes to the RubberDucks after spending eight seasons with the Mississippi Braves (Class AA; Southern League), most recently serving as the team’s assistant general manager after seven seasons as the director of sales.

Burke started his baseball career with the Burlington Indians (Rookie; Appalachian League) before moving on to general manager roles with the Fort Myers Miracle (2000-03), Hudson Valley Renegades (2003-07), and Grand Prairie (TX) AirHogs (2007-10). He is a two-time executive of the year and has helped teams achieve numerous community and business leadership awards, including in 2006 when Hudson Valley was the New York-Penn League’s nomination for Minor League Baseball’s prestigious John Johnson Award for organizational excellence.

“We have assembled an incredible staff over the years in Akron with a focus on bringing the very best in affordable family fun to Canal Park,” said General Manager Jim Pfander. “I’m excited about the new faces we are bringing on board and for the well-deserved promotions for key members of our staff. Our team will strive to provide fans an unmatched experience in Northeast Ohio when we open the gates in April!”

New Lead Broadcaster Marco LaNave was already part of the Fast Forward Sports Group family, having spent the last three seasons with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Class AA; Southern League) where he was the club’s media and public relations manager and one of its play-by-play announcers and sales executives. The club’s long-time radio announcer Jim Clark will join LaNave in the booth during home games in 2019, and LaNave will handle the play-by-play duties for all road games. LaNave was part of the franchise’s 2017 rebranding from the Jacksonville Suns to the Jumbo Shrimp. Prior to joining the Jumbo Shrimp, LaNave was the head of media relations and lead play-by-play broadcaster with the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) from 2012-15 and in 2011 he was a radio production assistant with the Minnesota Twins. LaNave is a native of St. Cloud, Minn., and he has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota.

Trevor McGuire joins RubberDucks as a Ticket Sales Account Executive. McGuire is a Stow native who played baseball at Stow High School. He has a Bachelor’s in Sports Management from The University of Akron. Also new to the staff is Sonia Bravo-Murillo, who will be the Coordinator, Community Relations. Bravo-Murillo interned with the RubberDucks’ community relations department in 2018. The Dover, Ohio, native is finishing up her bachelor’s degree in communications with a marketing minor at The University of Akron.

Two long-time part-time employees have joined the staff in full-time roles. Since 2014, James Petrella has spent four seasons on the grounds crew as award-winning Head Groundskeeper Chris Walsh’s right-hand man. Following the season, he was moved into the role of Assistant Groundskeeper. Petrella has also spent one year with the grounds crew for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Rainiers. Petrella, a native of Tacoma, Wash., has a sports management degree from The University of Akron. The other full-time addition is Gabe Wasylko as the Coordinator, Creative Services.

Over the last five seasons, Wasylko worked in the press box as a creative services intern and as the video board operator, becoming an invaluable part of the fun, family game-day experience at Canal Park. The Brunswick, Ohio, native is expected to graduate in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in political science and math from the College of Wooster.

Also transitioning into new roles are four members of the RubberDucks Ticket Sales Associates Program. Anthony Chadwick was made a full-time ticket sales executive in April, but he is now transitioning into the role of Manager, Corporate PartnershipsSam Cranor moves into the role of Box Office Manager, and Ian Wilkinson and Jacob Lambert have become a Ticket Sales Account Executive. Chadwick grew up in Conneaut, Ohio, and graduated with a communications degree from Cleveland State University. Cranor is from Boulder, Colo. He holds a sport management degree from Wilmington College and he worked a year for the Toledo Mud Hens (Class AAA; International League) and the Toledo Walleye organizations. Wilkinson is a native of Hartville, Ohio. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a sport industry degree and minor in business. This will be his fifth season with the Ducks, having spent the three seasons prior to 2018 as a grounds crew intern, ground crew gameday employee, and as a digital analytics and email marketing intern. Lambert is an Akron native who graduated with a sport management degree from The University of Akron. Prior to joining the Ducks, he was a bike technician and sales associate for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Two long-time ticket sales members were also promoted to new positions. Mitch Cromes will enter his ninth season with the team as the Manager, Season Ticket Sales & Service, after spending the last five seasons as the senior group sales manager. It is the fourth promotion for the West Liberty, Ohio, native who started as a ticket sales associate in 2011. Roy Jacobs is the new Manager, Group Sales & Service. Jacobs was a ticket account executive the past three seasons. He has a sports management degree from Malone University with business administration and coaching minors. He is a Louisville, Ohio, native.

Kyle Hixenbaugh, who many RubberDucks fans will recognize from his “Larry Luck” persona during 2018 promotions at Canal Park, is transitioning from his ticket account executive position to become the new Coordinator, Promotions. Hixenbaugh is a Logan, Ohio, native who graduated from Ohio University where he worked for the school’s athletics department and as the baseball team’s student manager.

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