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McHale promises responsibility, professionalism and fun

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001

In a brief speech Tuesday, new Devil Rays chief operating officer John McHale Jr. shared his thoughts on how a major-league team fits into the community and outlined the beliefs he said will become guiding principles for the Rays. Here are his words:

* * *

I believe that where Major League Baseball clubs flourish there exists a special relationship among the franchise, the players and the fans.

From the club's perspective, this requires a manifestation of its commitment to winning. Like it or not, lovable or not, the name of the game in professional sports is to win.

You have to be able to explain how you're going about that to your fan base. Some can be on faster tracks, some can be on slower tracks. This franchise, of course, is just in its infancy.

But until your fans understand that you have a plan, which if properly implemented, and allowing for the inevitable bumps in the road, will lead to a winning performance, you don't have much chance of convincing them to be with you.

The club and each member of the organization must also understand that it exists because of the support provided to it by fans and sponsors. Everybody lucky enough to work in Major League Baseball ought to every day remind themselves that they have this opportunity because fans and sponsors have chosen to support that club.

It is also necessary to understand, from a club perspective, that it is important to have a one-on-one relationship with fans. Every fan's problem is important. Every fan's opinion is important. Not always persuasive, but important. And every fan deserves courtesy, time and a reasoned response to a question or a particular problem.

It is also important for a club to understand its place in the community and its power to do good. We have a remarkable privilege to be associated with professional sports franchises in this country, as do our athletes. We need to understand there are things we can do which are not given to people who work in equally or more important occupations in other fields.

We have to understand it is incumbent on us to use our position, our resources and our platform to work for good. From a player standpoint, it is important the players be good citizens. It is important that they play the game right. They must show intensity and determination. Players that have successful relationships with their community will reflect qualities that communities see in themselves.

These things lead fans to make the emotional investment in a Major League Baseball club. And once they have made that emotional investment, they follow with the financial investments necessary to support our ongoing operations.

I think that fans come first because they are attracted to players, and then because they learn to love our history and tradition. And also because they value us as a fan-friendly family entertainment option. We are also to never lose sight of the fact that most people are fans because their mother or father or grandmother or grandfather were fans as well.

Therefore, while I am here with this organization, we will be devoted to winning. We will respect the game. We will honor our fans. We will operate in a prudent business-like manner. And we will be a force for good in this community.

We also intend to have a little fun.

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