Pittsfield Suns announce Michael Lieberman as new general manager
PITTSFIELD — The new general manager of the Pittsfield Suns says he's not planning on reinventing the wheel. Michael Lieberman said that there's no need to.
The Suns and the parent Goldklang Group announced on Monday that Michael Lieberman is the team's new general manager. He replaced Kristen Huss, who was promoted to Suns team president while also taking over as the vice president and general manager of the Goldklang's Hudson Valley Renegades team in the Short-Season Class A New York-Penn League. Huss spent the last three years in Pittsfield.
"They've laid a fantastic foundation," Lieberman said. "Kristen did a wonderful job here. Those prior to her did a wonderful job in positioning the team to be the focal point of family entertainment here in the Berkshires during the summer. What we want to do is make sure that we spread that word far and wide. Not just here in the primary area ... but go beyond that.
"And become more of a regional draw."
The Suns open their 2019 season on Thursday, May 30, for a 6:30 p.m. date with the Bristol Blues. It will be the first of five fireworks nights scheduled. One of those fireworks nights will follow the Futures League's All-Star Game, which will be held at Wahconah Park on July 16.
Lieberman has been involved in the sports industry for the past 25 years, working as a general manager in summer collegiate baseball leagues for 11 seasons. His most recent posting was as the general manager of the Sanford River Rats of the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
"We've conducted a fairly intensive search, with a couple of solid candidates we were considering," Jeff Goldklang, the Suns' principal owner, said in an interview with The Eagle. "For the Pittsfield general manager, we wanted to have someone with a significant level of experience operating ballclubs, and ideally with some knowledge of the Northeast. But someone who understood what we try to do, and that's an entertainment and baseball combination. It's a combination we feel very deeply about."
Lieberman's 11-year tenure in summer collegiate baseball included a number of seasons in the Florida Collegiate Summer League. He also worked in affiliated baseball with affiliates of Kansas City, Baltimore, Milwaukee, San Diego and the New York Yankees.
He spent one year as the general manager of the Worcester Tornadoes of the old CanAm League. In 2005, the Tornadoes drew 124,745 fans, third best in the CanAm League.
He was also the director of public relations for Major League Lacrosse in 2004.
"I actually learned of the opening through Chris Hall, the former commissioner," Lieberman said, in an interview with The Eagle. "He mentioned that he was aware of a team that had a need for a general manager. I reached out to him, and he made the connection. It was a couple of conversations and a visit to the Berkshires later, and here we are."
Goldklang said that with 45 days until the start of the season, Lieberman will be hitting the ground running. The team owner did, however, say that the job done by Huss and new director of marketing and ticket sales Connor Carey, have most everything up to speed.
This is the first time, since the Suns first rose at Wahconah Park in 2012, that someone with no connection to Pittsfield baseball or the Goldklang Group will run the team.
"We did look internally, and there are a lot of talented individuals in our group," Goldklang said. "We felt at this time that some of the talent was either a little too green to place them in a position of significance in Pittsfield, or had roles in our organization where we didn't feel, at this time, comfortable asking them to move. It was an organizational decision to look outside.
"I think we hit the jackpot with Michael."
Lieberman said he has experience working in older parks, of which Wahconah Park definitely fits. He said he's excited about plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wahconah Park, and hosting the All-Star Game.
But the new general manager said that it'll be business as usual on Wahconah Street.
"I'm getting the very quick, Cliff's Notes version of Pittsfield Suns 101. We're going to get up and running, and we're going to have fun," Lieberman said. "Maybe we'll do a little more in the next off-season to get the ball rolling. I don't want to come in here and turn everything upside down. Kristen has done a great job, the Goldklang Group has done a great job here.
"All I want to do is build on that."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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