The Quad Cities River Bandits announced Harold Craw as their new general manager Tuesday, making him the first African-American GM in Midwest League history and, shockingly, the only one in all of Minor League Baseball.
In the announcement posted on the River Bandits’ website, team owner Dave Heller called Craw “one of the true rising stars in Minor League Baseball.”
“He has a strong commitment to customer service, a love for baseball, and a genuine understanding of how we can continue to be a great place for families to spend quality time together and have a lot of fun all summer long,” Heller added.
Craw replaces Stefanie Brown, who last season was the only female general manager in the Midwest League. Brown, a three-time Midwest League Female Executive of the Year entering her sixth season with the organization, has been promoted to Executive Director of Modern Woodmen Park, a new position created specifically for her.
Craw joins the River Bandits after 10 years in sales and operations with the Charleston RiverDogs, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. He was the South Atlantic League’s 2008 Sales Executive of the Year and 2009 Community Relations Director of the Year. He started his career in Minor League Baseball in 2002 as the director of stadium operations for the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League.
During his tenure in Charleston, Craw worked for Bill Veeck’s son Mike, who is president of the RiverDogs. Besides knowing him as the mastermind of Comiskey Park’s infamous Disco Demolition Night promotion, Mike Veeck should be familiar to Midwest League fans through his involvement with the Veeck Family Night of 100 Promotions hosted by the Kane County Cougars in 2011. (You can read my account of that event here.)
River Bandits ask fans to name all-time team
The River Bandits are asking fans to help name the All-Time Quad Cities Baseball Team from the 82 seasons of minor-league baseball played in Davenport, Iowa, since their ballpark opened on May 26, 1931. (The ballpark, currently known as Modern Woodmen Park, opened as Municipal Stadium and was known as John O’Donnell Stadium from 1971 to 2007).
In the weeks leading up to the team’s home opener on Thursday, April 11, fans are being asked to select a “best” former Quad Cities player for each position. Votes may be registered on the team’s website or its Facebook page. (Apparently Twitter votes are not allowed.)
Voting began Monday for the best starting pitcher. The choices are:
Vern Law (5-11, 2.94 ERA, 144 IP for 1949 Davenport Pirates)
Jim Bunning (8-10, 2.88 ERA, 150 IP for 1951 Davenport Tigers)
Frank Tanana (7-2, 2.79 ERA, 134 strikeouts in 129 IP for 1972 Quad City Angels)
Rick Reuschel (3-4, 2.42 ERA, 56 strikeouts in 70.2 IP for 1983 Quad City Cubs)
Chuck Finley (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 12 IP for 1986 Quad City Angels)
Johan Santana (0-1, 9.45 ERA, 6 strikeouts in 6.2 IP for 1998 Quad City River Bandits)
The choices are not accompanied by their QC statistics, but I added them here so voters can make informed selections rather than choosing a player simply because he was their favorite one of the group. (Sorry, I couldn’t find Law and Bunning’s strikeout totals with their Three-I League Davenport teams.) Obviously candidates had to make a name for themselves in the major leagues to be eligible for the all-time team. I don’t like that — Santana, for example, clearly shouldn’t be a choice — but it’s not my poll, so I’ve shared my opinion and will now vote with a smile each week.
For what it’s worth, I voted for Tanana.
The rest of the voting schedule is: relief pitcher (Feb. 18-24), catcher (Feb. 25-March 3), first base (March 4-10), second base (March 11-17), third base (March 18-24), shortstop (March 25-31), outfielders (April 1-7), manager (April 8-10).
The River Bandits plan to use the voting results to help choose a line of bobbleheads to be given away during the 2013 season. (As a collector of bobbleheads, I fully endorse this plan!)