Missoula, MT.- The Missoula PaddleHeads Professional Baseball Club may have just clinched a 2021 Pioneer League Championship, but that does not mean they are not already hard at work in preparation for their title defense in 2022. The players on the field were able to accomplish many noteworthy things in
Missoula, MT.- The Missoula PaddleHeads Professional Baseball Club may have just clinched a 2021 Pioneer League Championship, but that does not mean they are not already hard at work in preparation for their title defense in 2022. The players on the field were able to accomplish many noteworthy things in 2021 on their road to a championship. However, none of that would have been possible without the strong foundation laid down by members of their hardworking front office.
The PaddleHeads would like to specifically acknowledge the work of both Matt Ellis, and Kim Klages-Johns who have both been instrumental members of the Missoula front office for many years. For this reason, the PaddleHeads have announced they both have received promotions within the organization. Ellis will now take on the roll of team President while Klages-Johns is now the Senior Director of Sales & Retail.
The past two years have brought along many challenges for the PaddleHeads organization. Most notable was the COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled the 2020 baseball season. Major League Baseball’s decision to eliminate the Pioneer League from their affiliated ranks was also a tough challenge to face. The PaddleHeads overcame both obstacles with creativity and determination. In 2020, the PaddleHeads’ front office created an entirely new event schedule that supported community groups, gave people a safe place to get out of the house, and provided quality needed entertainment to the community. These events included Movie Nights (benefiting The Roxy), Yoga, Golf, Trivia Nights, Happy Hours, and high-end dinners served on the infield.
With Major League Baseball downsizing the Minor Leagues, the Pioneer League was left on the outside looking in. Despite this change, the PaddleHeads and the Pioneer League negotiated a deal to become an MLB Partner League with Independent status. For the first time, the PaddleHeads were tasked to find, sign, and develop players to play for the PaddleHeads. Ellis oversaw the creation of the PaddleHeads Baseball Operations department. Missoula put together a team that included Manager Michael Schlact and Hitting Coach Bobby Brown that finished with a record of 66-32 during the regular season which culminated with a Pioneer League Championship. Their .673 winning percentage during the regular season was the highest of any franchise in all professional baseball.
In a statement from the PaddleHeads’ ownership group, Peter Davis, and Susan Crampton-Davis expressed their feeling of appreciation for what both Ellis, and Klages-Johns have brought to the organization.
“It’s been an amazing and challenging reentry into baseball this year, and Matt and Kim were instrumental in making a championship possible during unprecedented times of uncertainty,” said Peter and Susan. “Matt brought leadership and foresight to the hiring of the coaching staff and player operations as we moved those functions in-house as a new independent baseball franchise. Kim brought tenacious oversight to the team’s rebrand in our first official baseball season as the Missoula PaddleHeads, while also ensuring our team members were acknowledged and cared for during a challenging hiring climate. Both of their contributions, in addition to the tireless efforts of an extraordinary team, catalyzed our ability to win the Pioneer League Championship this year. We trust they will continue to bring great baseball and future championships to the good community of Missoula.”
Ellis has worked in professional baseball at numerous different levels for over 30 years and has been a part of the Missoula PaddleHeads organization as both an owner and operator since 1994. In his time in the Pioneer League, Ellis has been named League Executive of the Year four times most recently in 2011. He also has helped bring 5 Pioneer League Championships to Missoula.
On top of his work with the PaddleHeads on the field, Ellis has also been a leader in the Missoula community serving on the board of directors for the Missoula Downtown Association, and Destination Missoula. He is also a member of the Downtown Master Plan Implementation Committee.
Ellis has been able to achieve a high level of success with the PaddleHeads on the field while also playing an important roll within the community. Ellis could not be happier to lead the organization in his new role as team president.
“I am honored to be entrusted as President of this franchise,” Ellis said. “I thank our ownership, Peter, Susan, and Bob for their confidence in our front office team and myself to lead this franchise. My promise is that our team will continue to work hard for our community, corporate partners, fans, and team members to make PaddleHeads baseball the place to go for fun affordable family entertainment. Our goal is to provide our community a level of entertainment and community engagement that is unmatched in professional baseball.”
Klages-Johns has been in the retail industry for over 40 years owning her own business for 13 of those years. Her journey in the Missoula baseball world began when Klages-Johns joined the organization as the Retail Manager for the MSO Hub in 2011. Klages-Johns would then join the sales team in 2015, and would be promoted to Director of Retail, and Community Engagement in 2018. Klages-Johns has now been a part of 3 Pioneer League Championship teams in her time in Missoula.
Over the past three years, Klages-Johns oversaw a franchise rebrand from Osprey to PaddleHeads, and a downtown store rebrand from MSO Hub to PaddleHeads Post. The franchise rebrand was also named the number one rebrand in all of professional baseball in 2019. In 2021, the PaddleHeads would also set new high marks for retails sales.
The PaddleHeads promote a fun, and family friendly source of entertainment for the Missoula community to enjoy every summer. Klages-Johns is ecstatic that she will continue to help forge more memories for so many people in the Garden City for years to come.
“This organization is very special,” Klages-Johns Said. “From the front office to our day of game staff we take incredible pride in providing a joyful, safe place for our community to laugh, play and enjoy this beautiful place we call home. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this team and honored to accept this new position of leadership.”
To stay up to date on all the latest offseason news from the Missoula PaddleHeads, visit www.gopaddleheads.com.