The new general manager of the Pittsfield Suns is a first for the team owners. Kristen Huss is the first woman to be a general manager for a Goldklang Group-owned team.
But to the 31-year old Huss, it's less about being a trailblazer and more about bringing what she has learned after 10 years of working for the group's Hudson Valley Renegades team to Pittsfield.
"I love minor league baseball and I love being part of a team. I've been to Pittsfield several time and there's definitely a charm about it," she said. "I thought it would be a great experience for me. I was just happy at the thought about coming up there."
Huss replaces Kevin McGuire as the team's GM. McGuire left the team after the end of the 2015 season.
She has worn numerous hats in Hudson Valley. She started as an account executive and worked her way up to assistant general manager of the team in 2013. Huss was named the New York-Penn League's woman executive of the year in 2013, and was named one of the Dutchess County (N.Y.) Regional Chamber of Commerce's "Forty under 40" for 2015.
Eben Yager, the president of the Suns and of the Renegades, was asked why this is a "home run hire" for Pittsfield.
"Kristen has an incredible amount of energy. She has an incredible amount of baseball knowledge," said Yager, reached at the Goldklang Group's fall organizational meetings in St. Paul, Minn. "She is probably one of our most experienced individuals in our group when it comes to customer service and bringing energy to the ballpark.
"It's going to be a home run for the Suns."
Jeff Goldklang, co-owner of the Suns, was asked about having a woman as GM in Pittsfield and the hire's groundbreaking nature. He conceded that point but emphatically said that the fact that Huss is a woman had nothing to do with the hire.
"Candidly, zero," he said. "One of the reasons we've been so successful is we look at the talent, we look at the ability and the skill set, and we pay little or no attention to anything else.
"The fact that she's a woman has absolutely no bearing on the fact that I think she's going to be a tremendous asset to the Pittsfield Suns, and to Pittsfield and the greater Berkshire community."
The Goldklang Group already has one of the highest-ranking women in baseball in senior vice president Tyler Tumminia, who is a part-owner of the Suns.
"I never really look at it that way," said Huss. "It is a great honor and I'm very excited."
Huss said she was approached about taking the Pittsfield job in the beginning of October, and she was offered the job in the middle of the month.
The new general manager said she will be splitting time the rest of the year between wrapping up her Hudson Valley duties and getting to know people in Pittsfield and getting organized.
"Honestly, it's all excitement about what I can bring up there," she said. "I'm excited to meet the fans, the host families and the sponsors, and just really getting to know the people of the area."
Huss will be joined in the front office by Brian Flagg. Flagg ran the concessions for the Suns last year.
Morgan Powell, who is currently the Suns' assistant general manager, will be a member of the Suns front office until December, when she transitions into a position with the Goldklang-owned Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League. Powell will, according to Goldklang, help Huss with the transition to Pittsfield.
"Pittsfield defnitely has a strong fan base and has a lot of people who come to the ballpark. I'm really excited to be a part of that," said Huss. "There's a strong backing in the community. I've always been community oriented, so I'm excited to handle that as well."