Sale won’t mean quick changes for Knights

The news broke early just over a week ago, on a holiday weekend for many.

But it really wasn’t a holiday for Drew Weber, who announced he was putting both the Lowell Spinners and the Nashua Silver Knights up for sale as a package deal. It was an emotional struggle.

It wasn’t a complete surprise, because Weber has hinted in recent months that the time for letting go would be soon. But from the Silver Knights perspective, it creates a fear of the unknown that the franchise hadn’t had to deal with in its first five years.

The Nashua Pride had a couple of owners, mainly Chris English. The Atlantic League, which is really and always will be Long Island millionaire Frank Boulton, took it over. Another minor league mogul named Peter Kirk was involved.

But the Knights have been, like the Spinners, the model of stability. And they should continue to be, because despite the sale, they aren’t going anywhere. Nashua is a valuable franchise and location to the Futures League, unlike the way it was the poor little unwanted sibling sleeping in the tiny room off the kitchen in the Atlantic League.

But change is coming on a lot of fronts. The team, sooner than later, will have new ownership but at least will still have the resources of the Spinners. But it will also have to deal with a new mayoral administration, be it under the guidance of James Donchess or Chris Williams. That may or may not be a big deal.

Both have baseball in their history; the Nashua Pirates departed under Donchess’ watch in his first go-round as mayor back in 1986 and from these eyes he seemed lukewarm about the whole thing. Of course that was nearly 30 years ago.

Williams in his role as head of the Chamber of Commerce helped spearhead a Nashua Pride season ticket/business sponsorship drive in 2007 that allowed local businessman John Stabile to keep the Nashua Pride around for one final year.

That’s not saying one would be better for baseball than the other; that’s just the history. There are a few things needed to discuss with the city from a Silver Knights perspective in regard to needed improvements for Holman Stadium (scoreboard, concessions, etc.). Quietly the feeling with the Silver Knights is that had current Mayor Donnalee Lozeau stayed in office, there would be movement on those issues. Oh well.

Any immediate change won’t be all that visible. The casual fan, players, even coaches may not really see any trickle-down effect from above. You would think team president Tim Bawmann and VP Jon Goode and other Spinners /Knights staff will stay in place, if only for a one- or two-year transition period.

"Certainly in year one it won’t (have an effect)," Weber said the other day. "But the operations may be different going forward."

Weber says he envisions Nashua being able to operate more independently.

"I feel it’s important it run a little bit more on its own," he said. "I think it’s ready to do that. I think Tim and Jon and I will sit down and talk and see if there needs to be any shifting around."

Weber says "Yes I do" when asked if he foresees Bawmann and Goode running the Silver Knights ship for the forseeable future. He has certainly had an impact on Nashua’s baseball history, both good and bad. While the Spinners didn’t really affect things too much here, his foray into Manchester with the creation of the Double A Fisher Cats over a decade ago basically signaled the slow end of the Pride. Then, after he sold Manchester, he came to the rescue in Nashua to fill a year-long tenant void at Holman.

It’s funny, he may not have been in the region at all had he not spotted a minor league owner wearing a sweatshirt of his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, when he attended baseball’s annual Winter Meetings in the fall 1996. That owner was original Spinners owner Clyde Smoll; the now deceased Smoll and Weber had dinner, became friends and eventually Smoll called Weber a few months later to ask if he’d take the Spinners off his hands.

So we will see how things unfold over the next few months.

"Who knows?" Weber said when asked when a sale might be done. "It could be quick, it could be a long time. But I think it’s better all the way around, that the quicker it is, the better it is."

Stay tuned.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468, tking@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_TomK.