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Being the WCL Commissioner is not a Part-Time Job

by Steve Mims

Rob Neyer was putting the finishing touches on his seventh book in the spring of 2018 when the West Coast League came calling for a commissioner.
The famed baseball author was surprised and intrigued at the thought of running a summer baseball league.
“To be frank, it completely blindsided me when the league expressed interest,” Neyer said. “How many baseball writers get to be commissioner of a highly-regarded league? The answer is, almost none. It was nothing I ever imagined at the time.”
Never spent 15 years as one of the most prolific writers for ESPN before moving on to write for SB Nation and Fox Sports. He was living in Portland and completing the book “Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game” when the WCL reached out to him about a job.
“I was finishing up a book and didn’t have any other writing gigs lined up when they approached me,” he said. “I had nothing else planned over the next few months, so I had a free summer. If nothing else, it was something to do for the summer. I had no ambitions for the future because I was in an unknown place, so I thought I would do this for three months and see what happens next.”
The job was originally presented to Neyer as basically a part-time opportunity.
“I was going to visit all the teams and ballparks in the season, which was something I obviously looked forward to,” he recalled last week. “Who wouldn’t want to visit West Coast baseball venues, including some that I had not seen before. That was a thrill to travel around the Northwest and visit Kelowna, Victoria and Port Angeles, places I had never been before.”
The other major part of the job dealt with disciplinary matters.
“That was the part that had to get done right away,” Neyer said. “Everything else, I could put off a few days but that was the part that somebody had to be on top of. I was told there would not be much of that, but there turned out to be a lot of those things. I have a passion for baseball history which is steeped in principles of player discipline, and coach and manager and front office discipline. The things that you are expected to do for a league to operate in a professional manner. I took that seriously.”
Both Neyer and the league soon realized that commissioner was not a part-time job. He now enters his fifth year on the job after COVID cancelled the 2020 season and forced the league to play on without its Canadian teams last year.
“I realized that I could not continue to do this if the league considered it to be a part-time job and they did not consider it a part-time job, so we found away to make it work for me and for them,” Neyer said. “I am still here and growing into the job, I have a lot more growing to do. I learn something new every day so it is incredibly interesting. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel around the league and talk baseball.”
Meyer’s travels will take him to Springfield this summer when the Drifters begin play as the 16th franchise in the league. Springfield opens the season at Bellingham on May 31 before unveiling the Hamlin Sports Complex when Cowlitz comes to town on June 3.

 

Rob Neyer was putting the finishing touches on his seventh book in the spring of 2018 when the West Coast League came calling for a commissioner.
The famed baseball author was surprised and intrigued at the thought of running a summer baseball league.
“To be frank, it completely blindsided me when the league expressed interest,” Neyer said. “How many baseball writers get to be commissioner of a highly-regarded league? The answer is, almost none. It was nothing I ever imagined at the time.”
Never spent 15 years as one of the most prolific writers for ESPN before moving on to write for SB Nation and Fox Sports. He was living in Portland and completing the book “Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game” when the WCL reached out to him about a job.
“I was finishing up a book and didn’t have any other writing gigs lined up when they approached me,” he said. “I had nothing else planned over the next few months, so I had a free summer. If nothing else, it was something to do for the summer. I had no ambitions for the future because I was in an unknown place, so I thought I would do this for three months and see what happens next.”
The job was originally presented to Neyer as basically a part-time opportunity.
“I was going to visit all the teams and ballparks in the season, which was something I obviously looked forward to,” he recalled last week. “Who wouldn’t want to visit West Coast baseball venues, including some that I had not seen before. That was a thrill to travel around the Northwest and visit Kelowna, Victoria and Port Angeles, places I had never been before.”
The other major part of the job dealt with disciplinary matters.
“That was the part that had to get done right away,” Neyer said. “Everything else, I could put off a few days but that was the part that somebody had to be on top of. I was told there would not be much of that, but there turned out to be a lot of those things. I have a passion for baseball history which is steeped in principles of player discipline, and coach and manager and front office discipline. The things that you are expected to do for a league to operate in a professional manner. I took that seriously.”
Both Neyer and the league soon realized that commissioner was not a part-time job. He now enters his fifth year on the job after COVID cancelled the 2020 season and forced the league to play on without its Canadian teams last year.
“I realized that I could not continue to do this if the league considered it to be a part-time job and they did not consider it a part-time job, so we found away to make it work for me and for them,” Neyer said. “I am still here and growing into the job, I have a lot more growing to do. I learn something new every day so it is incredibly interesting. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel around the league and talk baseball.”
Meyer’s travels will take him to Springfield this summer when the Drifters begin play as the 16th franchise in the league. Springfield opens the season at Bellingham on May 31 before unveiling the Hamlin Sports Complex when Cowlitz comes to town on June 3.

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