The separation follows the October purchase of Horn Chen’s majority share of the third-year baseball franchise by Steve Ruud and the rest of the current Wingnuts’ local owners.
The Wingnuts and National Baseball Congress World Series continue to be overseen by President and General Manager Josh Robertson. The former Wichita Pro Sports front office staff has been divided amongst the two organizations. Operations for the Thunder have moved across the street from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to the Wichita Ice Center at 505 W. Maple St.
“With the Wingnuts now under local ownership, we felt that it was in the best interests of both organizations to separate the staffs and allow everyone to focus on one sport”, said Robertson. “This is not a divorce by any means. Both teams will continue to work together in their efforts to make the Wingnuts and Thunder the best professional sports entertainment that Wichita has to offer.”
In addition to the split, longtime NBC Tournament Director Jerry Taylor has moved into a part-time role within the organization to pursue other interests. Taylor, who served as Tournament Director from 2000-09 and as a full-time staff member from 2005-09, maintains his roles as NBC World Series Tournament Director and Wichita Wingnuts’ Official Scorer.
Former Wichita State University Shocker Casey Walkup assumes the role of Operations Manager for the NBC World Series. A graduate of Valley Center High School, Walkup played in the NBC 11 times, including being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Local Player in 2001 while playing for fourth place Athletes in Action. Walkup also served as a player-coach for the Community Bank Cowboys in 2004 and again from 2006-08. In 2005, Walkup managed the Park City Cowboys to one of the most improbable runs in NBC history and was named the tournament’s Manager of the Year. Walkup recently worked as a sports anchor for local KSN Channel 3, and has also broadcast NBC games on both television and radio.
“Casey brings a wealth of baseball experience to our organization”, said Robertson. “His ties to the community as a high school, college, and tournament player are a perfect fit, and we feel he is an ideal candidate to eventually take over as Tournament Director when Jerry is ready to retire.”
Also joining the Wingnuts’ staff is North High graduate and former Major League Baseball player Brian Holman. A first round draft pick by the Montreal Expos in 1983, Holman links with the Wingnuts in a part time role as Special Assistant to the General Manager. Holman was part of the 1989 trade that sent Randy Johnson from the Expos to the Seattle Mariners. The Aurora, CO native is perhaps most well known for coming within one out of a perfect game in April of 1990. Holman won 33 games and averaged over 30 appearances per season from 1989-1991 before his career was cut short at the age of 26 due to an arm injury. Holman currently serves as the Managing Director for Wichita’s Ronald Blue and Co. affiliate, a financial planning and investment firm.
“Brian’s experience in both baseball and business will be invaluable to our organization in helping the Wingnuts continue to grow. His connections within the game can aid in accessing greater talent bases when recruiting players, while his business acumen will be useful in helping to ensure financial stability.”
Terry Elliot joins the Wingnuts’ staff as the Director of Radio Sales. Elliot served 13 years as Wichita State’s primary color analyst. The former Shocker baseball player was a key figure in forging the Wingnuts’ new radio partnership with 95.3 FM KWME.
“Terry has great connections in the Wichita radio community. His track record speaks for itself and he will be vital in helping us find new radio partners.”
The Wingnuts also officially announced their new phone number. Wingnuts and NBC front office staff can now be reached for ticket orders and general information at (316) 264-NUTS (6887). The 2010 season opens at St. Paul on May 13th. Wichita’s 2010 home opener is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18th versus Sioux Falls. Deposits for season tickets and packages are being accepted now.