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Hagerstown Suns' GM leaving for New Jersey job

August 26, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown Suns General Manager Will Smith is taking the same job with the Trenton Thunder, a minor league baseball team in New Jersey, his home state.

Smith, 34, was with the Suns for five years, including the last two as general manager.

He said he's happy to move to a bigger operation in a bigger market.

"I'm coming home, so to speak," he said.

As a bonus, he'll work for an affiliate of the New York Yankees, his favorite team while growing up.

Smith's predecessor in Hagerstown, Kurt Landes, left the Suns in 2006 after five seasons to become GM of the Lehigh Valley (Pa.) IronPigs, part of the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league system.

Mandalay Baseball Properties, which owns the Suns, is looking for its next GM within its network of minor league teams. If that doesn't work, the search will expand, said Rich Neumann, Mandalay's president of baseball development.

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Neumann described Smith's work for the Suns as "outstanding."

Smith previously was director of ticket sales and merchandise for the Suns, then assistant general manager, before taking over for Landes two years ago.

A native of Dumont, N.J., Smith graduated from The College of New Jersey, formerly known as Trenton State College, with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

He said he tried to keep the geographic ties from coloring his job decision.

In the end, he said, the Thunder had about three times the staff, revenue and attendance as the Suns; he considered the new job a step forward for him.

Trenton is in the Eastern League at the minor leagues' Double-A level, two rungs above Hagerstown, a Washington Nationals affiliate in the low-A South Atlantic League.

Smith is replacing Brad Taylor, who is leaving Trenton to become GM for a start-up South Atlantic League team in Bowling Green, Ky.

Smith said he talked to Trenton Thunder co-owner Joseph Finley about the job opening a few months ago. Finley also is a co-owner of the Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League.

Finley couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Thomas B. Riford, the president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Smith's community contributions through local boards and charity fundraising events will be missed.

"He brought a lot of excitement to Hagerstown," Riford said.

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