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Personnel News: Rocket City, Frisco, Traverse City

Rocket City Trash Pandas

We have personnel news to report from the Rocket City Trash Pandas (Class AA; Southern League), Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League), and the Traverse City Pit Spitters (summer collegiate; Northwoods League). 

The Trash Pandas have announced the hiring of Lindsey Knupp, one of the most accomplished marketing executives in the game, as their Vice President, Marketing, Promotions and Entertainment. 

Knupp comes to the Trash Pandas from the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Class AAA; International League), where she oversaw what many observers call the best in-game experience in Minor League Baseball. This past season, the IronPigs won the Larry MacPhail Award, recognizing the top promotional effort in the sport. 

“When researching our business, every time I spoke to a friend in the industry and asked about the best fan experience in the game, I was always directed to Lehigh Valley and the amazing show that Lindsey produced,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “I feel our fans have supported our brand like none other – we are returning the favor by creating the best in-game fan experience in the business. 

“We have always said we would bring the best of the best to North Alabama and Lindsey Knupp is exactly that.” 

Knupp will be the caretaker of the team’s public image, head the Trash Pandas’ game promotions, giveaways, and all entertainment in Toyota Field, ensuring the experience in the ballpark is second to none. In fact, her title could very well be Vice President of Fun. 

“I am so excited to get started building a unique and special fan experience from the ground up,” said Knupp whose first official day is Nov. 21. “This is my second go-around with a start-up team and it is both a challenge and a privilege. Like everybody in Baseball, I have followed the birth of the Trash Pandas, and it is exciting to now be part of this team and great community.” 

Named the 2015 Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year in Minor League Baseball, Knupp is recognized as a trailblazer. She joins a ground-breaking front office that includes three other female leaders: Elaine Ballew, Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer; Mary Nixon, Vice President, BallCorps Food and Beverage, LLC; and Lisa Nelson, Vice President, Retail Operations. 

“I am proud that we were able to attract one of the biggest talents in the game to the Trash Pandas,” Ralph Nelson said. “I always admired Lindsey from afar and am thrilled that she is here now. I’m also proud that we continue to build a management team with such talented female baseball executives. Lindsey, Elaine, Mary and Lisa bring extraordinary skill and experience to the Trash Pandas.” 

During Knupp’s 12 years with the IronPigs, the team won five Golden Bobblehead Awards for its promotions, more than any other Minor League Baseball team. The awards include: Best Non- Gameday Event (2011), Best In-Game Promotion (2013), Best Theme Night (2016), Best Digital Campaign (2018) and Best Overall Promotion or Event (2018). 

In Frisco, the RoughRiders have announced the appointment of Zach Bigley as their new Manager of Media Development/Broadcaster. Bigley will broadcast RoughRiders games on both radio and television as well as serving as the club’s primary liaison with the media and front office.

Bigley, 24, spent last season as the Broadcaster and Media Relations Manager for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High A; Carolina League). The Pelicans are a sister franchise of the RoughRiders as part of the Greenberg Sports Group, led by Frisco CEO and General Partner Chuck Greenberg.

A native of Eugene, Oregon, Bigley served as the lead broadcaster in 2019 with the Pelicans after holding the assistant role in 2018. Prior to his time in South Carolina, he was the Broadcast and Media Relations Assistant with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High A; California League).

“We are thrilled to have Zach as a new member of our team,” Frisco General Manager Andy Milovich said. “Having worked with Zach when we were both with Myrtle Beach in 2018, I am confident that he will be able to continue the wonderful tradition of excellent play-by-play broadcasters in Frisco. Along with his on-air talent, he brings the ability to help create exceptional content across all of our platforms which fans will certainly enjoy.”

Along with working for the RoughRiders, Bigley provides play-by-play and hosts coaches shows locally for the McKinney Independent School District during the football and basketball seasons on 97.5 KLAK.

“I truly cannot wait to get started with the RoughRiders,” Bigley said. “Across Minor League Baseball, Frisco is regarded as one of the best franchises in the sport while residing in the incredible DFW area. I am deeply passionate about baseball, telling stories and connecting with fans and media members alike, so I know this will be a perfect fit. Words cannot express my gratitude toward Chuck Greenberg and Andy Milovich for giving me this opportunity to contribute to a franchise which has already proved to be the top of the line. It is also an honor to continue the amazing work of those who have held this position before me, including Ryan Rouillard, who is a close friend of mine as well as a mentor.”

Before joining the Minor League Baseball ranks, Bigley served as the Broadcaster and Media Relations Coordinator for the Walla Walla Sweets (summer collegiate; West Coast League) and was a Sports Director for the campus radio station, KWVA, at the University of Oregon. There, while majoring in journalism and minoring in history, he hosted weekly talk shows and provided play-by-play for Oregon football, volleyball, softball and acrobatics and tumbling while also broadcasting local high school football and basketball.

In Traverse City, the Pit Spitters have named Sam Connell their new Director of Sales.

Connell spent the past six seasons working in different sales roles in Minor League Baseball with Midwest League clubs the West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Peoria Chiefs and Fort Wayne TinCaps. He will oversee the team’s new business development, corporate partnerships, and ticket sales.

The Grand Rapids native and Aquinas College graduate is excited to join the staff in the team’s second year. “I watched the Pit Spitters success on and off the field in 2019 with interest. It was great to see the community embrace the new franchise as the team kept piling up wins,” Connell said. “My roots are in Michigan and I’m glad to back in the Mitten State and excited to get out and start forging new relationships with the Traverse City business community.”

“Sam is the perfect fit for our organization!” said Pit Spitters General Manager Mickey Graham. “He is passionate about what a local team can mean to a community and already has some great ideas for the 2020 season. His experience, enthusiasm and creativity will be huge assets heading into our second season.”

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