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Personnel news: Wild Things, Surprise Stadium, Otterbots, Hot Rods

Washington Wild ThingsWe have personnel news today from the Washington Wild Things (Frontier League), Surprise Stadium, Danville Otterbots (Appalachian League) and the Bowling Green Hot Rods (High-A; Sally League).

Sports Facility, LLC, the parent company of the Washington Wild Things, has named Christine Blaine as its Chief Executive Officer.

Blaine was the first employee of the Washington Wild Things when the club was purchased from Canton and moved to Washington, Pennsylvania in 2001. She was with the organization before the team was named or the ballpark was constructed. Blaine’s original position was Director of Marketing and Communication and, among other roles, she most recently served as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships with the team, which included ticket and sponsorship sales, plus more.

In her new role, Blaine will continue her work in corporate partnerships along with overseeing other departments at Wild Things Park, which includes the sales staff. 

“Chris was our first employee, and she knows the business inside and out, so we thought it would behoove us to put her in this role, so she can share her knowledge with the rest of the team,” said Stu Williams, owner of Sports Facility, LLC, via press release. “Chris is an essential member of our staff and any success the organization has is in part due to her efforts.”

She holds an AB in Communication Arts from Grove City College, an MEd in English from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (now PennWest Edinboro) and an MA in Corporate Communications from Duquesne University. Prior to working with the Wild Things, Blaine taught high school English, Theatre and Public Speaking at Fort LeBoeuf High School in Erie County and she worked at the Meadows Race Track.

Ted Tornow has stepped down as general manager of the Clinton Lumberkings (summer collegiate; Prospect League) and is the new Sponsorship / Marketing Manager for Surprise Stadium, spring home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.

Torn ow started in November of 1998 and had served as General Manager for the past 25 seasons, the longest in the club’s 87-year history.

“This was a difficult decision to make. I have raised my family and made many close friends here, but the right set of circumstances presented themselves recently and I accepted the opportunity for a new challenge,” Tornow said via press release.

The club was recently named as the 2023 Prospect League’s Organization of the Year Award. The LumberKings have been members of the Prospect League since 2021 and have led the league in attendance each year. They finished the 2023 season with the 10th best average per game attendance among the 160 Collegiate Wood Bat League teams.

No replacement has been named. 

The Danville Otterbots announced two front office promotions. Jacob Lemanowicz is now Assistant General Manager of Baseball Operations, and Wyatt Sutton is now Assistant General Manager of Entertainment.

Lemanowicz joined the Otterbots staff prior to the 2022 season as Assistant General Manager, having previously spent time with the Worcester Red Sox (Triple-A; International League). A native of the Boston area, Lemanowicz graduated from Providence College where he was the Head Coach, Director of Baseball Operations, and first baseman for the Friars’ club baseball team. He was inducted as an inaugural member of the Providence Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022. In his new role, Lemanowicz will oversee all baseball operations and events for Danville Baseball Club.

“We are beyond fortunate to have these two superstars on our team,” said Otterbots General Manager Austin Scher via press release. “I cannot speak highly enough of Jacob or Wyatt, and what they have provided to our organization, fans, and community. As we continue to strive to elevate the baseball and entertainment experiences here in Southern Virginia, Jacob and Wyatt are the perfect people to lead us into the future.”

Sutton started with the Otterbots during the 2021 season as the club’s on-field emcee. A native of Ringgold, VA, Sutton is a graduate of Dan River High School, where he was named 2021 Dogwood District Offensive Lineman of the Year. Sutton joined the front office in February of 2022 as Coordinator of Fun, and has since become the face of the franchise. Dating back to 2018, Sutton has enthralled wrestling fans throughout the region as The River City Wrecking Ball. He captured the Southeastern Heavyweight Championship during the Ballpark Brawl hosted by the Otterbots in July, 2023. In his new role, Sutton will oversee all aspects of ballpark entertainment and community relations for Danville Baseball Club.

“The progress that the team has made within the community over the initial three seasons is truly remarkable. Obviously Austin’s leadership has played a guiding part, but the quality of talented, sports executives that is being developed in Danville is amazing. These two promotions will help guide not just the Otterbots’ future, but also what’s yet to come for our teams,” said Ryan Keur, owner of the Danville Otterbots, via press release.

The Bowling Green Hot Rods announces a new member, and a returning position, to the front office, as well as three promotions to current staff during the 2023 off-season. 

Taking over as the Manager of Fun, a position that is returning to the Hot Rods front office for the first time since 2020, is Mikayla Algeo. After attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Algeo graduated with a degree in marketing in 2023. However, she is not new to Minor League Baseball, as she served as the Digital Marketing and Community Relations Assistant in 2023 for the Round Rock Express (Triple-A; Pacific Coast League). 

“Mikayla brings a unique experience to Bowling Green Ballpark. Having worked for a large market team in the past, we are excited to see her elevate the Hot Rods brand from a social and promotional aspect,” said Hot Rods General Manager and Chief Operating Officer Kyle Wolz via press release. 

Other promotions were also announced. Kim Myers, who has handled bookkeeping, payroll, and human resources for the Hot Rods since 2019, has been promoted to Controller. 

“Over the last several years, Kim’s role has expanded. She earned this promotion, and it properly reflects her responsibilities and her ever increasing value to the overall organization,” said Hot Rods Owner Jack Blackstock via press release. 

Jeff Ciocco received the call-up to the Director of Stadium Operations during the 2023 season. Ciocco has worked his way up the ranks of the Hot Rods front office since his internship season in 2021. Afterwards, Ciocco was hired as a seasonal Stadium Operations Assistant before quickly taking over Stadium Operations Manager in 2022. 

Nick Mariani was also announced as Stadium Operations Manager. His journey started as an intern with the Hot Rods in 2022. He was quickly brought back in 2023 as a seasonal assistant in the stadium operations department and prepares for his third season with Bowling Green in 2024. 

“It has been great to see Jeff continue to grow in our industry. From beginning as an intern to moving into a seasonal then full-time role, it has been exciting to see his development in the minor league baseball industry. We are excited to see Nick follow in his footsteps,” said Wolz via press release. “Adding another female employee to our front office and the opportunity to promote more from within, is amazing to see in a traditional male-dominated industry. I think it is a testament to the growth of our industry.” 

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