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Cougars Fire General Manager

By Frank Rizzo
MOUNTAINDALE — April 18, 2000 -- Jay Baldacci’s tenure as general manager of the Catskill Cougars lasted less than four months.
The team’s president, Mike McGuire, fired Baldacci on Sunday, saying, “We needed to make a change now for the sake of our organization.
“This was a midstream adjustment,” McGuire added, likening the move to changing pitchers. “This is not a personal attack on Jay. In our situation he wasn’t able to get the job done. We were not going in the right direction. In a different situation I would not hesitate to hire him.”
McGuire’s wife, Corinne, was named interim general manager, a step up from her assistant GM position. McGuire said he has several candidates in mind for the permanent position.
Baldacci came to the Cougars in December after two years as an assistant GM with the Waterbury Spirit, a fellow independent Northern League franchise.
“Jay came highly recommended, and I think highly of him, but this was a bit over his head,” McGuire said. “I believe with a little more experience he will be ready to go, run his own club.”
Baldacci’s duties had less to do with the traditional task of GM’s — roster and personnel — than running the administrative, business end of things at the Mountaindale-based franchise.
McGuire noted that in minor league baseball a general manager’s task might change focus from month to month.
“At this time of year it’s a 99 percent sales position, mainly advertising sales,” McGuire said. “This is not an easy market to work in, and you need someone to understand the market. I think Jay was unhappy living in this rural area, and was discouraged by his lack of success [selling advertising].”
McGuire acknowledged the “perception problem” in firing Baldacci, which will bring to mind the numerous personnel changes in the Cougars’ troubled past.
“I would not read too much into this [firing],” McGuire said. “I would suggest this is not indicative of an organization in disarray. Operationally, nothing has changed.”
McGuire made an analogy to a principal in a newspaper or radio station who changed his lead salesperson.
His wife, he acknowledged, took on the interim role with some reluctance.
“Corinne’s best behind the scenes,” McGuire said. “She’s been heading up improvements here at [Baxter Stadium].”
In a press release, McGuire stated, “Corinne has worked with me for several years, she knows what I expect and shares my vision for the long term success of professional baseball at Baxter Stadium.”
McGuire was athletic director at Sullivan County CC from 1990-97 and helped the men’s basketball program to achieve prominence. His marketing efforts resulted in a large jump in attendance at the men’s games.
“I’m here every day running this place,” McGuire said. “This is not the old Catskill Cougars.”



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