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In MiLB, the brain drain is real

Minor League Baseball logoOne of the saddest parts of MLB’s takeover of Minor League Baseball is watching the best and the brightest in MiLB either walk away or forced out of the game. Here are a few of their stories.

One of the joys of working in the baseball world was getting to know the many talented people working in Minor League Baseball, either for individual teams or in the St. Petersburg front offices. Whether it was working with the events staff on a Winter Meetings party, coordinating with a team on press coverage or appearing on a game broadcast, these interactions were always pleasant. No one worked in MiLB to get rich; by and large, they were there for the love of the game.

But there are fewer of them in the game than in the recent past. We’ve remarked before on the departure of many good people from the game. Yes, there’s always turnover in baseball: people decide that the generally pleasant working atmosphere didn’t outweigh the long hours and low pay. That’s true in every industry–publishing, most notably, is also built on the enthusiasm of younger workers.

It’s one thing to walk away on your own terms, and another to be forced out. Cutbacks in the Minor League Baseball office forced many well-liked and very capable out of the game; within the industry, we know who there are and how much they’ll be missed. Jesse Goldberg-Strassler and I discussed the brain drain on our last 2020 podcast (click here to watch), and it seems like every day there’s news of another departure.

There’s one departure worth noting: Andy Milovich, the former President and General Manager of the Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League), has left the sport and joined Sophos Marketing as its Chief Marketing Officer. Pretty shocking move: spend any time with Andy and you’d walk away convinced that he would be the very definition of a baseball lifer. He spent 30 years in MiLB, the last eight with Greenberg Sports Group as President/GM of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (2012-2018) and RoughRiders (2018-2020).

“I can’t say enough wonderful things about Andy both personally and professionally,” said RoughRiders CEO Chuck Greenberg.  “I’m grateful for his leadership and contributions in both Myrtle Beach and Frisco.  I’m excited for him and his family and wish him nothing but the best in his new venture.”

“I’d like to thank Chuck Greenberg for my time with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and Frisco RoughRiders. I have worked in Minor League Baseball since 1994 and enjoyed every minute of it,” said Milovich. “I always said it would take an amazing opportunity to pull me away from baseball and I found that with Sophos Marketing. I am excited to get in on the ground floor and make Sophos a world-class company in the digital marketing space. The RoughRiders have a great staff in place and I look forward to seeing their continued success in 2021 and beyond.”

Now, the RoughRiders will be in capable hands, led by Chief Operating Officer Scott Burchett and Chief Business Development Officer Erik Haag.   Burchett is entering his 18th season with the RoughRiders overseeing a variety of areas including stadium operations and finance. He was named the 2017 Texas League Executive of the Year. Haag joined the team in 2019 and leads the ticketing and sponsorship efforts for the Riders. Haag has more than 25 years of experience in the sports and entertainment industry. 

But it’s hard to imagine Minor League Baseball without the free-spirited Milovich, whose promotions work regularly won plaudits (and Ballpark Digest awards) within the industry and with local fans: this is the man, after all, who once underwent an in-game prostate exam while singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during a Myrtle Beach Pelicans Prostate Cancer Awareness Night promo. Like every great promo, the Prostate Cancer Awareness Night promo was certainly memorable because of the in-game prostate exam, but it also featured plenty of heart for a good cause.

Here’s the most up-to-date information about the current affiliation status.

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