Missoula Osprey Executive Vice President Matt Ellis was chosen as the Pioneer League's Executive of the Year during the general session of the Pioneer League's Fall Meeting in Billings. This is the fifth time Ellis has been named Executive of the Year in professional baseball. Previously, Ellis took home the Executive of the Year Award three times in the Pioneer League (Lethbridge 1994, Missoula 2002 & 2007) and once in the California League (Lancaster 1996).
Ellis will receive his award at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas in early December.
"I am so proud of the organization and fan base we have built in Missoula. I cannot say enough good things about our staff. They work so hard everyday to give our fans the best experience possible," said Ellis. "This award goes to our entire staff, fans, players and community. Our fans and our community are the best. It is an honor and joy to come to work each day to make our show the best in Minor League Baseball."
Ellis just completed his 24th season in professional baseball. He has been an owner and operator at all levels of Minor League Baseball and has been involved with the Missoula Osprey franchise as both an owner and operator since 1994.
Ellis helped oversee one of the most successful years in franchise history in 2011 that included the club's third highest attendance mark and two other major projects to ensure many future years of franchise success.
Ellis supervised the purchase and development of the MSO Hub, a new retail and visitor's center in the heart of downtown Missoula. The MSO Hub is a public/private partnership with the local tourism industry that includes 5,000 square-feet of retail, a complete visitor's information center and a community box office for tickets to events throughout the region. The retail includes Osprey & University of Montana merchandise as well as Missoula and Montana gifts geared towards the tourist and local resident.
Ellis also helped negotiate a long-term, 25-year lease that will keep the Osprey in the city owned stadium. The lease negotiation also moved stadium ownership from a local non-profit to the City of Missoula and retired stadium construction debt.
Ellis and the Osprey take community service seriously. He is currently a Board of Director for the Missoula Downtown Association, Missoula Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Parenting Place and Play Ball Missoula. He is also a co-chair of the Downtown Master Plan Implementation Committee. In the past year, Matt's wife, Shelly, helped start the Epilepsy Association of Montana which is the first organization of its kind in the State of Montana to assist those suffering from Epilepsy. The Osprey also boast one of the top elementary school reading programs in the country. This spring over 4,000 area first to fifth graders read over 50,000 books in their "Hit the Books" program and earned over $90,000 in prizes from the Osprey.
"Community involvement is very important to our staff," explained Ellis. "We think Osprey baseball improves the quality of life of in our community and that we make a positive impact. Whether it is reading programs, player appearances, staff involvement in non-profits, ticket donations or anything community related, I like to think that we do our job well."
Ellis is a graduate of the Arizona State University. In 1993, Matt was the youngest General Manager in professional baseball at the age of 24 with the Lethbridge Mounties of the Pioneer League. In 2007, the Osprey were named the top franchise in the country for short-season professional baseball by Baseball America for overall quality of the operation.
Baseball is truly a personal affair for the Ellis family. Matt's mom, Judy, is a former Rawlings Female Executive of the Year winner and was the first in the business back in 1981 as a day of game employee for the Lodi Crushers of the California League. Matt's dad, Mike, is a former member of the Board of Trustees for Minor League Baseball, is current Osprey President, and is Vice President of the Pioneer League. Matt's wife, Shelly, was the Female Executive of the Year in the Pioneer League in 2005 and their 17-year old son Michael works the home games as one of the team's batboys.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.