McClatchy Will Return

McClatchy Will Return

Ending several months of speculation Kevin McClatchy will remain as the Pittsburgh Pirates' chief executive officer and managing general partner, even though the franchise hasn't had a winning season since he took control in 1996.

McClatchy, whose family owns one of the nation's largest newspaper chains, formed the group that bought the Pirates for approximately $95 million in 1996. Since then, another newspaper chain owner, G. Ogden Nutting of Wheeling, W.Va., has acquired the majority stake in the franchise.

"(Getting out) is something that I look at every year," McClatchy said Wednesday. "I never told anybody that I was leaving. I don't understand where all the speculation that I was leaving came from.

"The story that was never really there to begin with isn't there. I'm staying.

"I've seen a lot of hard times with this organization. I can see the flicker of light at the end of a dark tunnel. I'd like to be around to enjoy what's coming."

The decision to keep McClatchy was made by McClatchy, who said he "hasn't lost the fire" to lead the Pirates.

McClatchy said in a statement issued by the team that he is as frustrated as the fans are with all the losses. The Pirates last had a winning record in 1992, also the last time they reached the postseason.

"You can't worry about it, and I don't," McClatchy said. "It's out there. You feel it. You know it. But it's not going to change until we start winning."

McClatchy will continue to be the sole public face of the franchise.

"The board and the partnership group are completely supportive of Kevin and his executive team," said board of directors chairman Bob Nutting, the son of G. Ogden Nutting. "We've made great strides on the business side of our organization and we're extremely encouraged by the team's performance during the second half of the season."

Despite playing in a ballpark that was funded largely by tax dollars, the privately held Pirates do not reveal how much profit they make. Revenue sharing money paid by larger market clubs and other income, such as advertising, is believed to have been enough to cover the team's approximately $47 million payroll this season even before ticket revenue was added.

McClatchy's focus will continue to be improving the on-field performance. The Pirates have had 89 losses or more eight times in 11 seasons since McClatchy's group bought them.

"Nobody on the board is pleased with 14 consecutive losing seasons," McClatchy said. "However, there is a lot of confidence in (general manager) Dave (Littlefield) and (manager) Jim (Tracy). We all believe that this organization is close to turning the corner under their leadership.

"Personally, I'm encouraged by our team. I believe in this core group of players -- Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, our four young pitchers and our bullpen. We have the core of this team locked up for many years and, in the second half of the season, I started to see real signs that the core was learning how to win baseball games."

This past season, the Pirates won just 67 games but finished with a winning record after the All-Star break for the first time since 1992.

The Pirates also announced three promotions among front-office personnel.

Jim Plake is the new executive vice president and will retain his responsibilities as chief financial officer. Dennis DaPra, previously the vice president of PNC Park operations and facilities management, now holds the title of senior vice president and general manager of PNC Park. Also, Tim Schuldt, formerly the vice president of marketing, sales and broadcasting, is the new vice president and chief marketing and sales officer.

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