Growing up in Vero Beach, Fla., spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Shawn Maltby couldn’t help but fall in love with baseball.
“Growing up in Florida, you’d skip school to go out to the ballpark. Baseball has always been a passion, and to be involved in the game it’s a dream that fell in my lap,” said Maltby, who recently took the reins as general manager of the Peninsula Oilers of the Alaska Baseball League.
Maltby is new to the Kenai Peninsula but has already had a good introduction to the community. Not only did his wife, Alicia, grow up in Kenai, Maltby served as the care and comfort manager for the Arctic Winter Games. As part of the Games staff, Maltby worked closely with a variety of school district and community officials.
“It was a good introduction,” Maltby said.
Maltby has a background in the hospitality industry after 12 years working for Marriott International. With two young sons, though, Maltby said he and his wife decided it was time to get out of the rat race.
“We both said we needed a slower pace of life, and we made the trek up here,” Maltby said.
Maltby said he had to convince Alicia to move back to Kenai, but he had fallen in love with the peninsula when he visited six years ago the same trip on which the couple first met.
Now, Maltby is getting to know the business community as he catches up on the sales and marketing side of managing a summer baseball team.
“Coming in as GM in the middle of April, it’s kind of late to do all the sales the season is less than six weeks away,” Maltby said. “I’m really behind trying to get the advertising done, but I’m sure we’ll be all right.”
Former Oilers GM Mike Baxter has been the acting GM this winter and did much of the work assembling the roster of top collegiate players for this year’s team, and Maltby said he’d continue to rely on Baxter to finish filling any open spots by opening day.
“I asked him to continue what he’s started so I can work on the sales end,” Maltby said.
This year’s roster includes several returning players in Jake Kahaulelio, Rocky Laguna, David Newby and Jesse Jordan, and while Thad Johnson is in his first year as head coach of the Oilers, has has two years of experience as the team’s pitching coach.
“Thad’s been here before. It’s nice to have his experience,” Maltby said.
Maltby said Johnson has been particularly helpful in making suggestions for things that need to be done around Coral Seymour Memorial Park, such as getting some tarps for maintaining the infield and some new rakes and other tools. Maltby has been over to the ballpark, but noted it was hard to tell exactly what needed to be done through a couple of feet of snow. Maltby did spend some time trudging around the outfield to inventory sponsors’ signage on the outfield fence.
Sooner or later Maltby is hoping sooner the snow will be gone and the team’s maintenance man can get to work on readying the field for the June 9 opener. Maltby also is putting the final touches on a variety of promotions at the ballpark.
“I’m ready for it to start. In Florida, (spring training) baseball is already gone there wasn’t a team there when I was growing up,” Maltby said.
Maltby would like to see the Oilers make a trip to Wichita, Kan., for the National Baseball Congress World Series as the top team from the ABL.
“We’d like to go to the World Series, but finishing as a contender in the ABL is a priority,” Maltby said. “I think the ultimate goal is to win the ABL.”
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