A lot has changed for the San Rafael Pacifics in the past five months.
Since winning the North American Baseball League North Division Championship in the team’s inaugural season last August, the team and the league have undergone a major overhaul.
The North American Baseball League was forced to cease operations shortly after the close of the 2012 season, as league management, Diamond Sports & Entertainment, opted to leave the NABL. The league shut down due to financial instability, according to Pacifics management.
As a result, the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs was incepted as its replacement and will begin play in 2013. The four teams that previously occupied the NABL – the Pacifics, Na Koa Ikaika Maui, the Hawaii Stars and the Sonoma Grapes – will now play in the Pacific league.
Eugene Lupario, managing principal owner of the San Rafael Pacifics, said the league’s title was chosen for identity purposes.
“The Pacific Association [of Professional Baseball] shows where we came from and where we are headed,” Lupario said during a Jan. 25 press conference. “This league is going to grow. It’s going to be bigger, more competitive and, I hope, more fun.”
Lupario also announced that former major-leaguer Mike Marshall, who managed the Pacifics during its 2012 championship season, has been named the first commissioner of the PAPB.
Before joining the Pacifics, Marshall served as Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Northern League.
“There’s a formula to what works in minor league baseball, and I think San Rafael has it,” Marshall said. “Win or lose, there’s 200 people staying after the game to run the bases and talk with players and coaches.”
Marshall was no slouch during his on-field career either. In 11 seasons in the majors, he earned an All Star selection in 1984, and a World Series Championship in 1988 – both as a Los Angeles Dodger.
Marshall said he hopes to build the league and “return to a traditional independent league style” with “great rivalries across California.”
Filling Marshall’s managerial role for the Pacifics is seasoned minor league coach James Frisbie.
Frisbie, 40, previously worked under Marshall as the pitching coach for the Chico Outlaws in 2011, and most recently coached for the Sioux City Explorers.
“There’s not one commissioner [in the league] that has [Marshall’s] extensive background,” Frisbie said of his predecessor. “His guidance as a commissioner is unprecedented. I’m honored to take over as the manager for the Pacifics. This is huge for the growth and success of the league.”
Joining Frisbie, as the Pacifics’ bench coach, is Stefan Wever.
Wever, 54, was drafted in the sixth-round by the New York Yankees in 1979. He suffered a career-ending injury to his pitching arm during his MLB debut. Most recently, Wever was the varsity baseball coach at Redwood High School in Larkspur.
“Win or lose, I guarantee our guys will play as hard as anybody,” Wever said at his introductory press conference.
Another issue the league is faced with this year is identifying a home field for the Sonoma Grapes.
Lupario said no final decisions have been made at this time, but that three cities have expressed interest in the Grapes.
The prospective cities are “within driving distance in the East Bay,” according to Lupario. He expects a formal announcement will be made within the next 10 days.
The Pacifics also faced some difficulty nailing down a home field prior to last season.
In 2011, the Albert Park Neighborhood Alliance filed a lawsuit against the team’s owners, Centerfield Partners, and the City of San Rafael.
The neighborhood group claimed the high number of home games at Albert Park would violate the California Enviornmental Quality Act; however, the lawsuit was dismissed in April of 2012.
In addition to the personnel and league changes, Lupario announced the Pacifics will engage in interleague play with the Freedom League during the 2013 season.
Lupario said the schedule for the 2013 season is still being finalized, but that the Pacifics will play 42 home games in a 78-game season. He also said there will be a 3-day window for playoffs, which will be in a “two-out-of-three, round-robin format.”
The Pacifics are expected to begin the season with interleague play on the road.
Contact Gregory Andersen at email@example.com.