Eshbach, Charlie (1995)
It has not taken long for Charles Eshbach Ill to make himself and the Portland Sea Dogs valuable members of the southern Maine community.
Eshbach, president and general manager of the Sea Dogs, is the chief architect behind the popularity, success and respect established by the Double-A franchise in less than two seasons.
The Sea Dogs surpassed nearly every expectation in their inaugural season of 1994 by selling out 49 of 69 home dates, including 40 of their final 41. They shattered the previous single-season attendance record for the Eastern League despite finishing 21 games below .500.
interest only seems to be growing this season. Many teams throughout professional baseball now strive to emulate Portland’s approach — featuring commitment to family, friendliness and community. Those values are what made team owner Daniel Burke believe Eshbach was the perfect choice to oversee his operation. Burke wanted an experienced baseball man whose skills and style would be embraced by Mainers. He discovered exactly that in Eshbach.
Eshbach, 43, previously served as Eastern League president for more than 11 years before accepting the many challenges of beginning Portland's new franchise in January of 1993.
The Weymouth, Mass., native cited those challenges, a reduced traveling schedule and Maine's quality of life among the advantages for him, his wife Ann-Marie and their two young sons Brian and scott.
Eshbach had steadily climbed the baseball ladder since landing a Class A assistant general manager's job in 1974, right out of the University of Connecticut where he earned a marketing degree. He became the Eastern League's president when it was nearly in shambles, but helped a resurgence that included four consecutive attendance records.
He gained respect, a reputation for honesty and fairness, and increased stature along the way. Eshbach's hiring, along with Burke's ownership, provided Portland with instant credibility in the eyes of professional! baseball.
Eshbach has since demonstrated why. He selected a youth oriented team name and logo that currently sells more than any other In minor league baseball. A seal-costumed mascot, reasonable prices and attractive Hadlock Field add to the popularity.
So Eshbach has masterfully blended the Sea Dogs with their community, including his considerable commitment to raise funds and awareness for local charities. Eshbach somehow makes nearly every fan feel an important part of the team.
For video of the ceremony .
From Portland Sea Dogs
"Charlie was employee #1 at the Portland Sea Dogs and the best hire my father could have made," said team chairman Bill Burke. "He has led this franchise with vision and high integrity and his hard work and good humor have been invaluable to all of us."
Sally McNamara added, "Charlie's fingerprints are all over this franchise and none of our success would have been possible without him. While we will miss his day-to-day presence in the front office, we are pleased to have access to him as a senior advisor."
Under Eshbach's leadership the Sea Dogs have been one of the Eastern League's model franchises. In the teams' inaugural season in 1994, the Sea Dogs led the league in attendance attracting over 375,000 fans. The Sea Dogs consistently rank among the league's attendance leaders. The Sea Dogs were awarded the 1999 Freitas Award, which is presented by Baseball America to honor the best operators in Minor League Baseball. In 2000, the Sea Dogs won the John H. Johnson President's Trophy, which is Minor League Baseball's top honor presented to the complete baseball franchise based upon franchise stability, contributions to the league, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry. Following the 2013 season, Eshbach was awarded the distinguished "King of Baseball" award for his accomplishments in the game.
Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski added, "I've been with Charlie Eshbach since day one with the Portland Sea Dogs when I was with the Florida Marlins. If there's one person that stands out as 'Mr. Sea Dog,' it's Charlie. I congratulate him on a great career and thank him for everything he has done for our organization, and baseball in general."
Prior to joining the Sea Dogs Eshbach served 11 years as Eastern League President and was presented the inaugural Warren Giles Award for outstanding service as a league president in 1984. During his time as league president, Eshbach served a three-year term on the Executive Committee of Minor League Baseball and served as interim President of Minor League Baseball in 1988.
Eshbach began his career in Minor League Baseball in 1974 with the Elmira Pioneers (NY-Penn League). In 1975 he joined the Bristol Red Sox, Boston's Double-A team in the Eastern League. Having served in the Eastern League since 1975, Eshbach is the longest serving active member of the league. Eshbach also served as General Manager of the Reading Phillies in 1978.
From Portland Press Herald