NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Now it's official.
Pat O'Conner was elected today as the 11th president of Minor League Baseball. He will replace Mike Moore, who served as the industry's head for 16 years, when Moore retires on Dec. 31.
The election was merely a formality as O'Conner has been widely perceived to be the main candidate for the job ever since Moore announced his decision to step down at the end of his term.
He went through the process as the front-runner and was named as the lone recommendation from a group of four candidates for president by Minor League Baseball's board of trustees. Wednesday's session and election merely cemented that choice in place and made it possible to correctly identify O'Conner as the president-elect.
"Thank you for putting your trust in me," said O'Conner, who will continue to serve as Minor League Baseball's vice president and chief operating officer until the end of the year. "It is with great humility that I take the responsibility that goes with that trust."
O'Conner received two long standing ovations following the roll call vote. Each league is given a certain amount of points and O'Conner needed to get 75 percent of the total in order to be named president-elect. It began with Appalachian League president Lee Landers saying "The Appalachian League is honored to cast the first vote for Pat O'Conner" and ended with Texas League president Tom Kayser's vote, giving O'Conner a unanimous 31 out of 31 points. He will serve a four-year term before deciding if he wants to run for re-election in 2012.
Minor League Baseball is enjoying a sustained period of growth, with attendance records falling nearly every year, so there was a definite feeling in the industry that the boat did not need to be rocked with an outside candidate. Not that O'Conner won't bring in fresh ideas, but keeping things going in the direction that Moore had helped the industry go in was clearly a priority.
"We're not dealing with a broken vehicle," O'Conner said after being initially nominated by the board of trustees. "We're not going to stand pat, but we don't have to reinvent the wheel.
"I want to be more involved, I want to be more inclusive, I don't want there to be a sense that there's not a flow of communication."
Communication and unity have been key themes throughout the Winter Meetings and are things O'Conner has stressed from the beginning of his official candidacy for the office. Getting every Minor League club on the same page where they can see the greater good rather than just within their own ballparks is essential if the game is to continue to grow.
"We will harness the collective genius and buying power of this body to maximize our reach and the benefit of that reach in as many areas as possible," O'Conner said in his opening-session speech here in Nashville. "We will not be without difficult times in the coming years.
Albert Einstein once said, 'In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.' We will work cooperatively to pull opportunity from our most difficult times.
"We are an impressive group. Flawed as we are and as battered as we once were, we have withstood the test of time and survived, even thrived in spite of ourselves. Let us go from here seeking opportunity -- committed to the goal of making Minor League Baseball even better tomorrow."