01/07/2009 – News Virginian Newspaper
Written By Robert Sisk The Waynesboro Generals will have a new owner perched in the press box this season. Jim Critzer said that he is selling the Valley Baseball League team, and winner of the last three Valley League Regular season titles, to Jerry Carter and John Leonard. The sale is pending a Jan. 22 vote but Critzer said that the vote was only a formality. “The only VBL team I would have an interest in purchasing was the Waynesboro Generals … this is a unique community. This is a special place,” Carter said. “A lot of teams, if you went in and got involved you would want to start from scratch … that’s not he case here. You’ve got the neatest group of people fanwise you could ask for … I didn’t buy a VBL team, it was the Waynesboro Generals.” Carter created the Around the Valley in 60 Days, a promotion that sent VBL fans to every team’s ballpark. Leonard runs http://www.AllThingsValleyLeague.typepad.com, played baseball for Eastern Mennonite University and is an English teacher at Eastern Mennonite High School. Carter and Leonard both said that they would not make any decisions affecting players. “I think a lot of this has to be formulated as far as our roles are,” Leonard said. The sale price was not disclosed to The News Virginian. Critzer said that he was selling the Generals so he could spend more time with his family. Critzer also stepped down as Waynesboro High School’s varsity baseball coach in the spring. “This goes back to why I stepped down at Waynesboro High as the baseball coach, I have to start spending more time with my family … I can’t do that and be here on a night-to-night basis and quite frankly I didn’t know who to talk to, I didn’t know how to market the team,” Critzer said. New plans Under Critzer’s reign the Generals climbed to the top of the Valley League and received national recognition. Carter said that he wants to build off the Generals’ success and make the team even more visible. Carter envisions special promotion nights, an out-of-town scoreboard looking over the outfield and fan participation that equals small Minor League followings. The new owners also want to begin updating the Generals’ out-of-date Web site, to make information easy for fans to obtain. During the 2008 season, Carter launched a marketing campaign for the VBL that sent fans to every ballpark in the league. He said that the VBL has to begin moving forward to maintain the health of the league. “Right now is a critical time in my mind for the VBL … the league needs to move forward,” Carter said. “There are leagues out there that are run in a very professional manner and the question right now is can we get the VBL on the same page and how do you do that?” Uncertainty After the 2008 VBL season Coach Lawrence Nesselrodt took the head coaching job at West Virginia Tech, about three hours west of Waynesboro. With the added responsibility of recruiting and building a NAIA program from almost scratch, he hasn’t told the new owners for sure if he is returning to Waynesboro for a fourth season. “It’s certainly been a great three years. Once this semester of recruiting finishes … and I can put one clip board down, I’ll have a couple of weeks to see how much I’m going to be able to get done for fall recruiting … It’s going to take a couple of months to recognize if I get a chance to get away,” he said. Carter said that Nesselrodt was one of the main reasons that he was so interested in the Generals, with Critzer adding that the coach was the reason behind the Generals’ success. “I think Lawrence Nesselrodt knows as much about baseball and people as anyone I’ve ever been around,” Carter said. “If this whole thing was in place but Nesselrodt said ‘I can’t help you,’ it would be tough for me.” “Lawrence Nesselrodt is the reason we have won three regular season championships and a Lineweaver Cup,” Critzer said. “He’s the one that puts these guys in between the fences on this field. I have no doubt that if he finds that, it will be too hard to coach. He is going to suggest to us someone who will live up to his caliber.” Nesselrodt said that regardless of his decision, he would remain a part of the Generals, helping recruit players and advising the new ownership team. “Basically, I’m still acting as the head coach and I’m appreciative of the opportunity to stay involved,” he said.