Fanning out as Tarp Skunks’ general manager
Last July, Frank Fanning was introduced as the general manager of the Jamestown entry in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
“My personal expectations I think are aligned with what (the fans expect),” Fanning said that sun-splashed day during a press conference held at home plate at Diethrick Park. “I would want them to expect championship-caliber baseball.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, didn’t allow the Tarp Skunks to even take the field in 2020. Their season was scheduled to start Friday, but the PGCBL canceled it weeks ago, and now the team is in need of a new GM.
Fanning, 30, announced Wednesday afternoon that he has chosen not to renew his contract for the 2021 season.
“Baseball is sometimes a season-by-season sport for players, as we all know,” he said in a prepared statement. “And sometimes it is season by season for members of the front office as well, even when there’s no season. For the most part, I was signed for one year to turn the franchise around, and I made good on my promise. The current global climate plays a factor into my decision, too. It’s time to return home.”
Fanning said he plans to fulfill his July 1 memorandum of understanding with the Tarp Skunks, but is not “aware of any job postings at this time.”
Russell E. Diethrick Jr., the chairman of Jamestown Community Baseball LLC, said Wednesday night said he was disappointed that Fanning would not return.
“He’s part of the team,” he said. “I still wish it was him in the dugout or in the bullpen someplace, but he’s made the decision after a lot of thought. There is so much unknown in (baseball), it’s hard to find what’s on the other side of the fence. He felt this was the time.”
Fanning, a Montreal native, arrived in Jamestown last year with an extensive baseball resume. The son of Jim Fanning, the former GM of the Montreal Expos, Fanning began as a catcher in the Premier Baseball League of Ontario until he was 18. After a music industry and radio career, he spent the 2017 season as the box office manager for the Oakland A’s NY-P League affiliate in Vermont, and became the director of team operations in 2018. In early 2019, he assisted with the sales for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Mary’s, Canada.
During his tenure in Jamestown, Fanning was the person tasked with a rebrand of the franchise that was officially launched earlier this year, resulting in strong support in Tarp Skunks’ merchandise sales and on social media.
“The Tarp Skunks’ brand is a gift to Jamestown,” he said. “It is so baseball-universal, and the groundwork is laid for the management group to continue to do something special with it.”
Diethrick credited Fanning for his rebranding efforts.
“There was some doubt whether we’d have baseball again,” Diethrick said. “We brought him aboard and he was successful. … Along came the (coronavirus) and that put a lot of things in question and baseball suffered the most.”
In his prepared statement, Fanning offered thanks to many people in the community for their support, but admitted there were “obviously challenges.”
“I always felt like I could overcome anything,” he said. “Now, it’s up to the Board of Directors to maintain that momentum and continue the positive trend. The goal was to give Jamestown something it never had before. Here it is. I wish them luck.”
Diethrick is confident about baseball’s future in Jamestown.
“There is a team here and that team will get a leader,” he said. “It’s all going to work out.”