The independent Pacific Association has chosen a familiar executive as its next commissioner, naming Theo Fightmaster to the post. Fightmaster began his Pacific Association career as a front office executive with the San Rafael Pacifics in 2011, later serving as general manager of the Sonoma Stompers from 2014- 2017.
During Fightmaster’s tenure the Stompers were on the cutting edge and garnered national acclaim for the organization’s progressive tactics. After Sonoma’s 2014 inaugural season, the Stompers partnered with former Baseball Prospectus contributors and managing editors, Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller, to bring analytically driven and experimental ideas to the front office and to the field. The story of the 2015 season was chronicled in the New York Times best-selling book “The Only Rule Is It Has to Work.”
Additionally the Stompers signed the game’s first openly gay player, Sean Conroy, in 2015, and partnered with Francis Ford Coppola’s Virginia Dare Winery in 2016 in an effort to create more opportunities for women in professional baseball. The Stompers recruited Kelsie Whitmore and Stacy Piagno in an effort to integrate the game. The Stompers went on to win the Pacific Association championship that season, and enjoyed a better-than .600 winning percentage in the four seasons under Fightmaster.
“Theo Fightmaster is someone who realized years ago, that to make an impact in the sports world, he would need to think outside the box,” said Billy Bean, Vice President & Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. “His ability to bring progressive minded people together that work as a team caught my attention a few years ago. In that time, his name, while being one of the best in pro sports, has started to become synonymous with innovation. I can’t wait to see what he does next.”
Off the field, Fightmaster guided the Stompers through three separate ownership groups and was part of a front office that lead Sonoma to profitability in their third year of operations. Sonoma saw sponsorship revenues grow for four consecutive seasons (2014-’17), and enjoyed increased ticket sales and food and beverage revenues year over year from ’14 to 2016.
Part of his vision for the Pacific Association is to bring new revenues in the form of corporate partnerships. More immediately, to usher in new ownership to San Rafael. The Pacifics, the charter member of the Association and one of independent baseball’s signature franchises is currently up for sale.
“The Pacific Association means a great deal to me, as do the people in it.” Fightmaster said. “We’ve put literal blood, sweat and tears into this league, and I hope to help usher in a period of continued growth and stability.
“This league has done so many incredible things in such a short period of time; from experimenting with robotic umpires, to five-man infields and giving opportunities to gifted players regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This league has launched a number of very promising baseball careers — on the field and in the front office — and I’m eager to see what’s next.”
A lifelong Sonoma County resident, Fightmaster is a graduate of the Arizona State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. In 2017 he was recognized by the North Bay Business Journal as one of the regions top 40 executives under forty. He resides in Santa Rosa with his wife, who is a teacher, and two sons. They are expecting a baby girl in March 2019. Fightmaster sits on the board of directors for the non-profit Children & Family Circle, which helps provide free day care for parents of children from infancy to 2 years old. He and his wife have also served as foster parents for multiple children.