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Personnel news from Boston, Billings, Bowling Green and Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas NaturalsWe have personnel news this morning from the Boston Red Sox, Billings Mustangs (Pioneer League), Bowling Green Hot Rods (High-A; Sally League) and Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A; Texas League).

Our old friend Shawn Smith has been named by the Boston Red Sox as General Manager, Florida Operations and JetBlue Park at Fenway South. In this role, Smith will manage all community, facility, and event operations for JetBlue Park, including Red Sox spring training, as well as oversee all capital improvement projects and business development of JetBlue Park and the adjacent Fenway South parcels.

“Shawn’s extensive experience at the executive level of business development and operations, coupled with his contributions as a member of the extended Red Sox family during his time as GM of the Lowell Spinners make him uniquely qualified to oversee the day-to-day operations of JetBlue Park,” said Jonathan Gilula, EVP and Chief Operating Officer, Boston Red Sox, via press release. “Shawn is a strong addition to the incredibly dedicated team at JetBlue Park, and we are thrilled to welcome him as we prepare for the upcoming 2023 Spring Training season.” 

Smith brings significant experience in the sports and entertainment industry, serving two stints as General Manager of the Lowell Spinners (Short Season A; NY-Penn League) over 15 years and nine years with the National Basketball Association.  Smith has also served as an executive leadership consultant for a wide variety of industry clients specializing in brand development, revenue generation and event management.

“I am honored to be part of the Red Sox organization and greater Lee County community,” Smith said via press release. “JetBlue Park is an incredible facility and I look forward to providing a world class experience for our players, staff, and members of Red Sox Nation at Fenway South.”

Smith is a graduate of Purdue University and Syracuse University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Science degree at the Newhouse School, respectively.

In Billings, Matt Allen has been named the new General Manager of the Billings Mustangs. In that position, Allen will oversee the team’s staff and day-to-day operations, while continuing to grow the game of baseball in southern Montana. Allen replaces outgoing General Manager Gary Roller, who recently announced his retirement after eighteen years at the Mustangs’ helm.

“Matt Allen is a rising star in minor league baseball,” said Mustangs’ owner Dave Heller via press release. “He’s done virtually every job there is to do in the game, and he’s excelled at each. He knows how to run a team, hire and inspire a staff, manage a ballpark, and, above all, provide a first-rate game experience for our guests. We’ve got a lot of big things planned for the Mustangs and in this, our 75th Anniversary year, and I’m excited for him to lead us forward.”

Allen joins the Billings front office after spending seven years with the Grand Junction Rockies (Pioneer League) and the past four as the club’s Assistant General Manager. Beginning with the team as an intern in 2016, Allen held numerous roles within the organization, including positions in food and beverage, operations, sales, and management.

During Allen’s time with the Rockies, the team broke attendance and sponsorship records, while also raising money for various charities and nonprofit organizations. In addition, the team also underwent a successful rebrand, becoming the Grand Junction Jackalopes ahead of the 2023 season.

“I am extremely excited to join a team and community with such a rich baseball history,” Allen said via press release. “Being able to work with and learn from some of baseball’s best Gary Roller, Dave Heller, and Joe Kubly is such a blessing.  I am looking forward to the 2023 season and many more to come.”

Allen graduated from Colorado Mesa University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management and played four years on the school’s baseball team, earning Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Academic Player of the Year his senior season.

“Knowing Matt from his time spent in Grand Junction, I’m confident that his working knowledge of the Pioneer League and previous experience in professional baseball in general will prove beneficial to the Mustangs operation in Billings,” Roller said via press release.

Shawn Murnin is the new Voice of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. He will be on the call for all 138 Naturals games this season and fans can stream each game on or on their mobile First Pitch app.

Murnin joins the Northwest Arkansas Naturals organization after serving the last four years (2019-2023) as the Broadcasting/Media Relations Manager for the Bowling Green Hot Rods (High-A Tampa Bay Rays). The graduate of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania has a history of calling baseball that dates back to 2015. In 2015-2016 he worked for the Mankato MoonDogs (summer collegiate; Northwoods League) as a broadcaster before transitioning to the Peoria Chiefs (Low-A; Midwest League) in 2017. With the Chiefs, he served as a Media Relations/Broadcast Assistant before becoming the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations with the Hagerstown Suns (Low-A; Sally League) during the 2018 season. Murnin will be joined in Northwest Arkansas by his wife, Sam, and their son, Elias.

“I’m so excited to join the Naturals and the Northwest Arkansas community for the 2023 season,” Murnin said via press release. “The Northwest Arkansas Naturals and the Kansas City Royals have tremendous reputations and to get a chance to be a part of that is really special to me. I have a great appreciation for Justin Cole and Dustin Dethlefs for giving me the opportunity to become the Voice of the Naturals and can’t wait for this season to get started!”

Replacing Murnin as Voice of the Bowling Green Hot Rods: Riley Edwards is the team’s new Media Relations and Broadcasting Manager.

Edwards returns to Bowling Green, where he becomes the eighth voice in team history. He spent the Hot Rods’ 2021 championship run as an intern and worked under Murnin as the broadcast and media relations assistant.

“We’re excited to see Shawn continue to elevate in the Minor League Baseball ranks, as he takes on his new role in Double-A with Northwest Arkansas,” Hot Rods General Manager, Kyle Wolz said via press release. “With Shawn’s promotion, we knew that Riley was first on our list to fill his role. Riley was a vital part of our broadcast team during the championship run in 2021 and we are excited for him to take his next step in his career and become the next Voice of the Bowling Green Hot Rods.” 

This will be Edwards’ fourth season in MiLB, after serving in assistant roles with two other teams. He was the broadcast and media relations assistant for the Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A; Eastern League) in 2022. Before he was able to consistently spend time on the airwaves, Edwards called his first Minor League action as a production assistant and backup broadcaster for Great Lakes Loons (Low-A; Midwest League) in 2019. 

“I am extremely excited to return to Bowling Green,” Edwards said via press release. “It was an amazing season while I was an intern in 2021, watching how everybody works together in the front office and watching it translate into an amazing gameday experience. I learned so much under Shawn during that season and I can’t wait to carry on a phenomenal broadcast that he created here.” 

Before breaking into the MiLB, Edwards was the sports director for the student radio station at his alma mater, Central Michigan University. There he became the broadcaster for the CMU baseball team, getting a taste of his first full baseball seasons in 2018 and 2019. This led to his first summer-collegiate gig, an internship with the Purcellville Cannons (Valley Baseball League). 

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