HarbourCats Hire New GM (with Prairie League History)

Victoria Harbour Cats Head LogoPRESS RELEASE – The new General Manager of the Victoria HarbourCats brings with him a love of the game and an extensive background in baseball operations, marketing and media.

Victoria HarbourCats New GMHarbourCats President John McLean is pleased to announce that Jim Swanson will take the reins as Vice-President and General Manager of the team, effective Dec. 2. Swanson, who is relocating from Prince George, will represent the HarbourCats at the West Coast League’s annual General Manager meetings which are taking place in Salem, Oregon, on Friday, Nov. 22.

“Jim brings with him a strong background in operating successful baseball ventures, and is a former professional baseball General Manager with a lot of connections in Victoria and on the Island,” said McLean.

“I think he’s a tremendous fit for our organization, and will help take HarbourCats baseball to the next level. The work he’s done in leading the committee that has successfully hosted three World Baseball Challenge international tournaments, and the 2012 Baseball Canada Senior Championship, all in Prince George, has been outstanding, and that record of success will add a lot for what we want to accomplish in working with the community, the fans and our corporate supporters.”

Swanson, 45, is married to Lori, an elementary school teacher and talented singer, and they have two children, Zachary (13) and Rachel (10). The family is excited to be part of the community in Victoria.

“This is an incredible opportunity to be in the best market in the West Coast League, and to live in the best city in the world,” said Swanson.

“I have been fortunate to have a lot of opportunities with the game of baseball, from organizing major events, to working in professional baseball, to coaching men and youth at all levels right up to international events. I am eager to get started, and to work with the talented people who helped the HarbourCats make such a successful foray into the West Coast League and the baseball-crazy city of Victoria. I have so many friends and business contacts in the Capital District, this will be very enjoyable. There is such a great future for both the league and the team, and I have been very impressed with John’s dedication to the HarbourCats and his plans for the future.”

Swanson was Chair of the World Baseball Challenge, which was successfully staged at Citizen Field in Prince George in 2009, 2011 and 2013, featuring national teams from Cuba, USA, Canada, Japan, Chinese-Taipei, Germany, Bahamas and China. He was Manager of the host Prince George Axemen team that won gold at the Baseball Canada Senior Championship in 2012, and Head Coach for Team B.C.’s peewee (13U) entry in the CABA World Series in Cincinnati in 2013.

Swanson’s voice may sound familiar to many Islanders as he has been the MLB analyst for Dan Russell’s SportsTalk radio program for five years, and most of his career was spent in the media, as a television sports anchor, radio commentator and in a long tenure as Sports Editor of the Prince George Citizen, where he extensively covered the Western Hockey League. He is leaving a management role with TELUS, that he accepted in 2010, to take over as General Manager of the HarbourCats.

In 1996, Swanson was Co-Commissioner and Administrator for the independent Prairie League of Professional Baseball, an expansive 10-team league located in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 1997, he served as Vice-President and General Manager of the Grand Forks Varmints of the Prairie League, and one of his pitchers was Victoria product Trevor Strandlund, a crafty left-hander who threw 100 innings for the Varmints. Swanson has coached in four Baseball Canada Senior Championships (2001, 2002, 2007, 2012) and has a gold and two bronze medals from those events.

Swanson was an honourable mention on the Bob Elliott/Canadian Baseball Network list of ‘Most Influential Canadians In Baseball’ in 2012, mostly for his work on the World Baseball Challenge. He has also served as an instructor for Toronto Blue Jays Super Camps in Vancouver, Kelowna and Prince George, was finalist for the national Community Service Award at the 2012 Canadian Sport Tourism Association Awards, and was given the 2006 George Connolly Memorial Award for dedication to senior baseball in B.C. He has served on B.C. Senior Baseball Association and B.C. Minor Baseball Association boards. Swanson was Co-Founder and President of the Western Major Junior Hockey Writers Association when he was beat writer for the Prince George Cougars.

“It will be a pleasure to work with John, and alongside the HarbourCats management team, coaches, players, volunteers, and, of course, Harvey the HarbourCat,” said Swanson. “The HarbourCats brand quickly became a staple on the sports scene in Victoria, and it didn’t take long for me to understand how much people enjoyed the fan experience at Royal Athletic Park in 2013. Let’s see what we can do to turn things up a notch in 2014, and support the coaching staff to give Victoria a championship team.”

About the West Coast League

The West Coast League features a competitive level of play and recruits players from high-calibre baseball programs at colleges and universities across North America. With the addition of the as-yet-named Yakima franchise, the WCL has 12 teams in three divisions for the 2014 season, with franchises located in B.C., Washington and Oregon. The Victoria HarbourCats are in the West Division with the the Bellingham Bells, Kitsap BlueJackets of Bremerton, Wash., and Cowlitz Black Bears of Kelso/Longview, Wash. The 54-game regular season starts June 6 and runs through August 10, with playoffs to follow.

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