Boston to Big Easy
New owner, GM and manager hope to bring Red Sox’s winning ways to New Orleans
The levee behind the centerfield wall at Zephyr Field isn’t yet known as the Green Monster, but with an influx of leadership from the Red Sox organization, it may not be too long before the feature adopts the name of the gargantuan left field scoreboard at Boston’s Fenway Park.
When the Zs take the field this month, they’ll be led by a new owner, general manager and manager – all who have prior experience with the Red Sox’s major league and Triple-A teams.
In December, Lou Schwechheimer’s Yes2No, LLC, purchased a 50 percent interest in the New Orleans Zephyrs and took over day-to-day operation of the club. Schwechheimer was a longtime minority owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston’s Triple-A affiliate), leading the team for more than 30 years as CEO, general manager and chief operating officer.
“Our goal is to make the New Orleans Zephyrs one of the top franchises in all of Minor League Baseball,” Schwechheimer said. “With the great South Louisiana fans, the love of sports here, and our hard work, we have every reason to believe that we will succeed.”
Yes2No bought controlling interest of the Zephyrs for an undisclosed sum from Don Beaver, who bought part of the team in 1995, obtained a controlling interest in 2001 and became sole owner in 2002. Beaver owns an interest in and serves on the Board of the Pittsburgh Pirates and also owns two Triple-A teams in North Carolina — the Charlotte Knights and Hickory Crawdads.
“Mr. Schwechheimer is one of the top executives in all of Minor League Baseball, and we look forward to him taking over management,” Beaver said. “We welcome him to New Orleans, where he will find some of the best and most loyal fans in all of baseball.”
Arnie Beyeler, who spent the last three years as first base coach for the Boston Red Sox, helping the franchise win the 2013 World Series, will serve as the 15th manager in New Orleans Zephyrs history. He has compiled an 802-756 (.515) record in 13 seasons as a minor-league manager, reaching the playoffs six times. Rojas spent nine seasons as a manager in the Red Sox system at triple-A Pawtucket (2011-12), double-A Portland (2007-10), single-A Augusta (2002) and single-A Lowell (2000-01).
Schwechheimer installed Augusto “Cookie” Rojas as senior vice president and general manager. He comes to the Zephyrs after serving 18 months as the general manager for Brown Bears Sports Properties at Brown University in Providence, R.I. He spent the previous eight years as general sales manager with Pawtucket.
“I am looking forward to reuniting with Arnie,” Rojas said. “I know him to be a great manager, motivator and teacher, and someone who really cares about and embraces the community.”
Former GM Mike Schline will stay with the team as vice president of baseball operations.
Since arriving in New Orleans in 1993, the Zephyrs have been affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and for the past seven years have been the triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
The Zephyrs peaked in New Orleans at the turn of the last century, when they won the Triple-A World Series in 1998 and the Pacific Coast League in 1998 and 2001.
All 144 Zephyrs home and away games will be carried by WODT Fox Sports 1280, and will also be available on iHeartRadio. Additionally, a select number of Zephyrs games will be televised again on Cox Sports Television.
The Zephyrs begin the season on April 7, with the home opener at Zephyr Field on Friday, April 15, against the Omaha Storm Chasers.
Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.