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Personnel news: Sioux City, Wilmington, Kingsport, Charleston

Wilmington Blue RocksWe have personnel news today from the Sioux City Explorers (American Association), Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A; Sally League), Kingsport Axmen (summer collegiate; Appalachian League) and Charleston Dirty Birds (Atlantic League).

Industry veteran Tom Backemeyer is the new Vice President & General Manager of the Sioux City Explorers. Backemeyer, who spent the last two seasons as the Executive Vice President of the Vancouver Canadians, brings more than 20 years of Minor League Baseball experience to the Explorers. 

“We are very excited to have Tom join the Explorers. He has vast experience in professional baseball that will enable the Explorers to expand our fan base throughout the community and to enhance the fan experience for all of our fans,” said Explorers Chairman John Roost via press release.

After working his way up in the industry, including stints with the Nashville Sounds, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and Fresno Grizzlies, Backemeyer was named Executive Vice President of the Everett AquaSox in 2009, where he led a franchise turnaround across all categories as well as hosting the Northwest League All-Star game in 2013. 

In 2015, Backemeyer was named Executive Vice President of the Lancaster JetHawks, where he helped rejuvenate the JetHawks franchise through an increased sales focus while building the teams awareness amongst the local community. His efforts led to being named the California League Executive of the Year in 2018. 

“I am extremely excited to be joining the Explorers organization and want to thank John Roost for trusting me to lead this franchise into the future. I look forward to getting involved in the Sioux City community and working with our talented front office staff to provide a great experience for all of our fans,” Backemeyer said via press release. 

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Backemeyer is a graduate of Colorado State University and the University of Denver. 

Assistant General Manager Liz Welch has been promoted to General Manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. In this capacity, she will oversee the day-to- day operations of the club while continuing to grow the game of baseball in the greater Wilmington region and work to enhance the Blue Rocks’ long-standing presence within the community. Welch is only the fourth general manager in the team’s storied thirty-one-year history and becomes the South Atlantic League’s only female general manager.

Welch has been with the club for six years. She first joined the Blue Rocks in February 2017 as the team’s first Client Services Manager. In that role, she oversaw the fulfillment and relationships of the team’s key corporate partners. In 2019, she was named Director of Marketing, a role she held until being named Assistant General Manager at the beginning of the 2021 season. Since then, Welch has overseen many departments and significant projects, including a multi-phase renovation plan that brings Frawley Stadium up to Major League Baseball’s new PDL facility standards.

“Liz Welch is a quiet leader and a rising star in minor league baseball,” said Blue Rocks owner and managing partner Dave Heller via press release. “She is hard working, determined, thorough, and focused on getting things done. Over the past six years, she’s done just about every job there is to do in minor league baseball, and accomplished each with alacrity and aplomb. We at the Blue Rocks are lucky to have Liz, and we’re delighted to help put another big crack in the glass ceiling that’s kept talented women from reaching the top of their field in minor league baseball.”

“I’m really excited for this next chapter,” said Welch via press release. “Since I came to Wilmington, I’ve been absolutely blown away by the community’s love for the Blue Rocks. The history of this franchise runs deep, and that’s something our fans are incredibly proud of. I’m also so grateful for all of the support I’ve received. From Dave Heller and our ownership group to our fans, the Washington Nationals, and our great staff, everyone has supported me from Day One. I’m proud of what we’ve done and I’m even more excited for what’s ahead. The best is yet to come!”

Jarrod Bowen is the new General Manager of the Kingsport Axmen, effective today.

Bowen spent the previous season with the Axmen as Assistant General Manager and as an account executive. A Kingsport native and graduate of Gate City High School, Bowen attended East Tennessee State University, where he graduated in August of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Sport and Recreation Management.

“I am very excited to announce Jarrod as our new General Manager of the Axmen,” said Boyd Sports Vice President Jeremy Boler via press release. “Jarrod has been with us since day one of the Kingsport Axmen. He is a Kingsport native, and he has an incredible bond with the community. This team is very personal to him. We are looking forward to him leading the franchise for many years to come.”

“I am extremely honored and want to thank both Chris Allen and Jeremy Boler for all their support and for this amazing opportunity,” said Bowen via press release. “As a Kingsport native that has spent their entire life here and attended many Mets games in the past, this opportunity to lead my hometown team is an extreme honor. I look forward to building on the Axmen’s amazing success in 2022, both on and off the field, and cannot wait for our 2023 season.”

The Charleston Dirty Birds announce numerous changes and promotions within the full-time front office staff.

“We are tremendously proud of our organization’s accomplishments, both on and off the field, the last two years,” said Dirty Birds’ Owner and CEO Andy Shea via press release “Our staff has been a key asset to our success, and we look forward to their continued contributions and impact in their new roles.”

In addition to Jeremy Taylor being promoted to General Manager, the Dirty Birds have promoted three additional full-time staff members:

George Levandoski has been promoted to Director and Coordinator of Corporate Sales. Jay Silvermanhas been promoted to Director of New Business Development, and Jessica Swartz has been promoted to Director of Merchandise and On-Field Apparel.

Among the organization’s Business Operations:

Joining the Dirty Birds’ full-time staff for the 2023 season is Ben Blum as the Business Operations Manager and Nathan Richard returning as the Director of Food and Beverage. Richard worked for the organization from 2017-2019 as the Food and Beverage Assistant before working with the Lake County Captains as the Manager of the Food and Beverage Department.

Rod “Toast” Blackstone remains in the Dirty Birds’ front office staff as Sales and Community Ambassador.

Blain Smith joins the Dirty Birds organization as Group Sales Manager alongside Meg Keller as a Group Sales Account Executive and Community Relations. Smith and Keller develop strategies to continue the partnership and relationship among the Dirty Birds community members.

Among the organization’s Baseball Operations:

Eden Douglas joins the full-time staff as the Manager of Marketing, Entertainment, and Media Relations. Douglas is a Charleston native and has been with the organization since 2019. In her new role, she will oversee Broadcasting; Marketing; Communications; Game Day Production; Promotions; and Social Media. Pete Costigan will be working alongside Douglas as the Assistant Manager of Media Relations and Broadcaster.

The Dirty Birds have added Mackenzie Brown as the Manager of Ticketing and Box Office Operations. Brown is a graduate of the University of Charleston and has been with the Dirty Birds’ ticketing department since 2021.

Andrew Thompson also joins the staff as the Manager of Stadium and Baseball Operations. In his role, Thompson will assist the General Manager in all Baseball Operations including roster additions and changes.

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