Josh Olerud isn’t one to talk about himself.
So when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders team president, COO and general manager had the chance to comment on being named the International League Executive of the Year on Thursday, he immediately deflected to the rest of the front office.
For Olerud, this honor spoke most about the effort the front office put in as a whole this year. An impressive campaign that included hosting the Triple-A National Championship Game on Sept. 19 and seeing a six-percent increase in per-game attendance from 2016 during the regular season.
“In the front office, we have more of an impact off the field than on the field, but it’s good to be recognized by stuff like this because we work so hard on continually trying to raise the bar with family affordable entertainment, being a community leader and all of that different stuff,” Olerud said. “It’s a full-on staff accomplishment, and to be recognized by your peers is always nice. It was a surprise, but I think as a staff we deserved to be recognized because there’s a lot of good things happening here and there’s a lot of good people doing a lot for the community. It’s a special honor for us.”
In season that included the biggest PNC Field crowd since its reconstruction in 2012 — 11,515 fans at the home opener — and a more-than-fixed-seat sellout of 9,383 fans for the Triple-A National Championship Game, that also featured near a 95-percent show rate, the 2017 campaign featured many highlights for Olerud and his crew.
One of the biggest takeaways from this season was the franchise’s involvement in the community. The RailRiders pushed their “community impacted total to almost $1 million this year,” according to Olerud.
“As a staff, throughout the year, and as a company, we’re constantly trying to be innovative and we’re trying to be community partners to help businesses grow here,” Olerud said. “To partner and help establish community programming that directly effects our youth and our schools.
“The national championship game, we went after that event and we wanted to make it unique and different and I 100-percent think we accomplished that. We were extremely proud to end on that note.”
Both Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders co-managing owner David Abrams and International League president Randy Mobley had high praises for Olerud.
The RailRiders team president was given the league’s top executive honor, which is named after Dave Rosenfield, who passed away in February 2017 and spent 48 years in the International League.
“It is a great honor for Josh to receive this recognition, as it is determined by a vote of his peers,” Abrams said via a press release. “We are proud of what Josh and his staff have accomplished in the past year and are very excited to have Josh lead this franchise to continued success going forward.”
“To me, the greatest aspect of being recognized as the league’s Executive of the Year is the fact that it comes from one’s peers,” Mobley said. “Josh receiving this award, now named after our dear friend and colleague Dave Rosenfield, is a statement that his fellow directors recognize what he is doing and what is being accomplished by this franchise under his leadership. Josh has been a welcome addition to the International League within the past few years and I look forward to all that he has to offer the RailRiders and the International League in the years to come.”
Olerud provided an update on a couple of items going on with the team.
He said that the search for former VP of baseball operations, Curt Camoni, has turned to an internal candidate. Olerud believes that the franchise will find his successor “soon.”
“That’s another thing with having a strong front office, there are several people here in the front office that have the background for baseball operations and have worked on a variety of different things,” Olerud said.
The Baby Bombers concept was “a huge success on our merchandise line” and is here to stay, according to Olerud.
Before the team re-releases the logo, they will “re-sharpen and re-define” the logo thanks to some of the feedback they’ve received.
“We’ll be releasing something probably at the beginning of the year that will be our new, kind of, Baby Bombers logo for 2018,” Olerud said. “The concept and the name and everything, I think, plays in great with being in the Yankees farm system and the success we’re having. We’re definitely going to keep that branding going.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle