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Shapiro named president of Pioneer League

McCurdy will remain with league as commissioner in 2021
Michael Shapiro previously worked as the executive vice president for planning and development with the Baltimore Orioles.
March 15, 2021

SPOKANE, WA – The Pioneer Baseball League (PBL), an independent MLB Partner League, announced today a new management team led by veteran baseball executive, Michael Shapiro, who will serve as the new league President. Shapiro will be assisted by Henry Hunter, the league’s new Vice President of Business Affairs, and

SPOKANE, WA – The Pioneer Baseball League (PBL), an independent MLB Partner League, announced today a new management team led by veteran baseball executive, Michael Shapiro, who will serve as the new league President. Shapiro will be assisted by Henry Hunter, the league’s new Vice President of Business Affairs, and industry veteran Bill Bavasi who will lead scouting and player development initiatives.

Jim McCurdy will remain with the league as its new Commissioner. McCurdy, the former owner of the Butte (MT) Copper Kings, has served as the Pioneer League’s president for the past 27 years.

"The Pioneer League Board of Directors are thrilled to welcome Mike to our league," said Billings Mustangs owner Dave Heller. "He has a long track record as a senior executive with several Major League Baseball clubs and, uniquely, has also owned and operated an independent league club. On behalf of all the PBL owners, I look forward to working with Mike as our next league president."

Most recently, Shapiro served as Executive Vice President for Planning and Development of the Baltimore Orioles, having previously served as the Senior Vice President for Business Affairs with the Washington Nationals and Vice President and General Counsel of the San Francisco Giants. As well, Mike served as Senior Counsel for the Atlanta Braves and Vice President of Business Affairs for Turner Sports.

Before assuming his role with the Orioles, Mike was President and General Manager of the independent (Pacific Association) San Rafael Pacifics for 7 seasons. During his tenure, Shapiro led the Pacifics to 4 league titles and was named Pacific Association Executive of the Year in 2015.

"I am honored to have been selected as the President of the Pioneer League," said Shapiro. "This is an exciting time for the league as it transitions from an affiliated league into an MLB Partner League. I can’t imagine a more thrilling opportunity than to help further develop and grow the league into a unique vehicle for player development while continuing to serve its local communities as a wonderful and affordable family entertainment option."

Hunter, formerly having served as Director of Business and Legal Affairs with the Washington Nationals and as General Counsel with prominent Washington, DC lobbying firm, theGROUP, will assume responsibility for the Pioneer League’s business development, legal and new media efforts as the league transitions into its newly formed status as an MLB Partner League.

“Henry is a consummate professional and experienced business, political and legal affairs executive,” said Shapiro. “We worked together with the Nationals and I’m excited to have him join me in developing the future success of the Pioneer League.”

In addition to his baseball experience, Hunter has a diverse legal and political strategies background, having served as a trusted advisor to multinational corporations, political campaigns, advocacy groups, foreign governments, and entrepreneurs. Hunter is also an Adjunct Professor of Sports Law at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.

In launching the PBL’s new status as an independent league and its unique relationship with MLB as a Partner League, the League will also be assisted by Bill Bavasi, a 40+ year MLB executive who previously directed the MLB Arizona Fall League and supervised the MLB Scouting Bureau. Bill also served as Vice President of Scouting and Player Development for the Cincinnati Reds and Executive Vice President and General Manager of both the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels.

“As the Pioneer League transitions into its new status as an independent league and an MLB Partner League, Bill will be an invaluable resource to help with player procurement and development while using his deep relationships within MLB to best leverage our Partner League standing,” said Shapiro.

About the Pioneer League: Since 1939, the Pioneer League has operated in the Mountain West region as an MLB affiliated league. Beginning in 2021, the PBL will be an independent league with teams in Montana (Billings, Missoula and Great Falls), Idaho (Boise and Idaho Falls), Utah (Ogden) and Colorado (Grand Junction and Colorado Springs). The Northern Colorado Owlz, formerly Orem Owlz, join the League for the 2022 Championship Season.