Despite what the purchase of the Texas Rangers has required of Chuck Greenberg's focus, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans principal owner has still managed to make progress on a search for a new Pelicans general manager.
It was announced late Saturday that an investment group headed by Greenberg reached an agreement to purchase the Rangers from Tom Hicks, pending approval of Major League Baseball owners and Hicks' creditors, and Greenberg said Sunday the Pelicans' GM search is well under way.
North Johnson's departure after three years in Myrtle Beach to become GM of the Atlanta Braves' Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, Ga., was announced Tuesday.
"[The Rangers sale] has certainly taken quite a bit of time but we've also been making great strides in searching for a new Pelicans GM," Greenberg said. "When we became aware North was going to be leaving, I was able to take an active part in finding a replacement and we've been inundated with great candidates."
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Greenberg anticipates filling the GM position sometime in February. He wants to do it as soon as possible as much to benefit the Pelicans as to abide by the etiquette of minor league baseball, which deters the plucking of executives close to opening day in April.
"The closer you get to opening day the tougher it is for an organization when somebody leaves," Greenberg said. "Not all front offices have depth of quality we have. We want to do this in a gentlemanly way and proper way and not cause anybody any harm."
Keeping the process short shouldn't affect the quality of the hire because of the quality of the applicants already received by Greenberg Sports Group, which manages the Pelicans and short-season Single-A State College (Pa.) Spikes.
"I anticipate the search will be completed quickly because of the shear number of great candidates," Greenberg said. "I think it's because of the combination of Myrtle Beach being such a great place to live, the momentum the Pelicans have already established, the appeal of working in our organization with some of the interesting things we've got going, and the cache of our relationship with the Texas Rangers.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the quality of the candidates. Whoever we end up selecting is going to be a great addition to the community and the organization."
Greenberg said he, Greenberg Sports Group executive vice president Rick Janac and vice president Jeff Garner will collaborate on the hiring.
"We have a great staff in place and we'll have an outstanding GM," Greenberg said. "I think the continued growth of the Myrtle Beach franchise will continue without interruption."
Greenberg has been an active owner of the Pelicans from a distance as a full-time attorney in Pittsburgh, and doesn't believe his role in Myrtle Beach will change all that much as the Rangers' managing general partner and chief executive officer. He purchased the Pelicans with an investment group in 2006.
"We wanted to help establish how we as an organization want to do things, but it's really taken on a life of its own [in Myrtle Beach] and that's what you want after a few years," Greenberg said. "All the time we've had the Pelicans I've had a full-time job as a lawyer. It's not as different as you might think. As far as the Pelicans are concerned I'm going from one full-time job to another, although it will be a pretty cool new job."
The Pelicans' affiliation with the Atlanta Braves as the organization's high single-A affiliate is up for renewal after the 2010 season, and Greenberg said his ownership of the Rangers isn't likely to affect the team's future major league affiliation.
"Our mission with the Pelicans is to do what's in the best interest of the Pelicans," Greenberg said. "We've had a great relationship and I believe we'll continue to have a great relationship with the Braves."