Don’t bother asking Doug Leary “What’s happening?’’ right now, because the answer is, “Everything….right now.”
The new general manager of the Edinburg Roadrunners is fast at work making miracles at Edinburg Baseball Stadium, and though he admits that he and his staff are doing what would ideally take six to eight months of work in just six to eight weeks, he is excited.
“I think that even though we have a lot of work to do here, in time, we will be able to show the community that we’re committed to being here and committed to making this a first-class operation,” Leary said Wednesday.
Leary, who has over 30 years of experience in sports ranging from hockey and baseball to greyhound racing and even women’s softball, arrived April 3, and immediately set about getting the message out. And there were multiple messages, for a franchise that has re-assumed the old Roadrunners name after three seasons as the Coyotes.
The name change, which has already been advantageous, is just one of the items Leary is promoting as the team prepares for its United League Baseball home opener at the Stadium June 11.
“It’s been a little daunting, honestly, but that’s the way it works when you come in new and on a tight time window,” said Leary, whose last gig was with minor league hockey in Portland, Ore. “But I have already seen what a positive impact just the name change has had with business people in the Valley. Now we want to get the fans back in here and show them what we can do.”
Leary calls 2009 a “survival year,” after the league nearly went under after the 2008 campaign. But he quickly adds that the league’s long-term viability is strong.
“It would have been easy for the league to go dark,” he noted, using the terminology of the trade to mean cease operations. “But I think we all figured that having to totally resurrect it would have been way harder. As it is, we are getting set for the season and we think it’s going to be a good one.”
Leary explained that given the brief amount of prep time, the Roadrunners will not be able to toss out all the trimmings for awhile. But he believes that once he gets settled in, the team will unload an entertaining bag of tricks this summer that the city will find enticing.
“People want to see what we’ve got, of course, and there may be some hard feelings leftover from the people who were here before. But right now, we’re working hard and we plan to prove to the people in this area that we are here to stay, and that we are going to roll out an entertaining option for them. I won’t promise what I can’t deliver, that’s part of my philosophy. But in time, we will deliver something good.”
He says that his management style is open-door all the way, and after the previous regime gained a reputation for, shall we say, the opposite approach, Leary thinks that all systems are go.
“I am who I am, I am not Gary Wendt,” he said of the past owner. “I am interested in fan feedback, we want people to share with us what they want. I’ve been in this business for over 30 years and I have learned the importance of listening to the community. This is a transition for the Roadrunners with a lot of deals to make and work to do. But we will always keep the fans in mind.”
The Chicago native attended Arizona State and then embarked on a long career mainly in the West, from Arizona to Utah to Oregon. He has considerable AAA experience and says that though he’s always worked in affiliated ball, he was always curious about the independent leagues.
“I am getting to appreciate the amount of work it takes in independent ball,” he admitted. “In affiliated, the major league clubs take care of a lot of things for you. But here, it’s all up to us.”