Tim Bawmann chuckles when he is called president of the New York Penn League's Lowell (Mass.) Spinners baseball club.|
"I laugh at titles, because people do so many things in the world of minor-league baseball,'' says the Rock Island native, who is one of life's good guys and straight shooters. Mr. Bawmann is in his 25th year as a minor-league executive, his 10th with the Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
In minor-league speak, "president" also means part-time grounds-crew member and tarp puller, concession vendor, stadium seat wiper, ticket taker and fan suggestion box.
"That covers most of it,'' said Mr. Bawmann, 47. "That's what's great -- everyone does something to make the show come to life.''
Mr. Bawmann is also the president of the Nashaua Silver Knights, a summer team for elite college-age players chasing the dream of playing pro ball.
When Mr. Bawmann took his first job with the Beloit (Wis). Brewers two and a half decades ago, he had no idea baseball would be his career.
Along the way, his jobs included working with the Houston Astros affiliate in Kissimmee. Fla.; running the Montreal Expos with Major League Baseball; and serving as the general manager of the Quad City River Bandits here in the Quad-Cities. The dream of working in his hometown became a nightmare, thanks to then team owner Rick Holtzman.
"The toughest experience I ever had in baseball,'' Mr. Bawmann said of working for Mr. Holtzman, famous for failing to pay his bills and leaving Mr. Bawmann and his staff to make do. Had Mr. Bawmann not been a Quad-Cities native and good to his word to work with those owed by Mr. Holtzman, the situation would have been worse than it was.
And it was bad.
"I can remember getting our paychecks and racing to the casino to cash them,'' Mr. Bawmann said. "Or taking the gate receipts from the night before so I could pay the beer guy the next day. It was tragic. I loved coming home, but it was not the ideal situation. But a lot of people truly tried hard to make it work -- and we did, as long as we could.''
After Mr. Bawmann left the Quads and worked for Major League Baseball, the Lowell job opened up. In Massachusetts, he says, he found the perfect spot to establish roots for his family and take a club to the next level. Under his leadership, that club sold out every home game for seven consecutive seasons.
"There was a time when my daughter -- who is 18 and going off to college this year -- was in four grade schools in one year,'' Mr. Bawmann said. "That had to stop. We found Lowell, a community deep in history and wanting a successful franchise.''
Mr. Bawmann, whose club's home is not far from Boston, says there are days when he can follow Paul Revere's famous midnight ride path or drive past a home built in 1625.
"It's not far from the beach and the mountains as well,'' he said of Lowell. "And we have great fans and a wonderful community. The history here is unique and at every turn. We have great staff and fans that care. It's been a great ride.''
A ride Mr. Bawmann said he'd like to be in for the long haul.
"I'd love to be in an ownership situation, and that might come, but if it doesn't, I'm OK,'' he said. "It might be the college-league side first, but that's one of the goals. No matter what, it's been a fun ride.''
A fun ride for one of life's good guys.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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