Jerry Walker began a career in professional baseball in 1989 that has now spanned parts of four decades. He began as the co-owner, president, CEO, and general manager of Minor League Baseball's Bellingham Mariners in 1989.
Walker guided the Bellingham franchise through an affiliation change in 1995, forming the Bellingham Giants. In 1997, the franchise relocated to Keizer, Ore. Walker led the design and construction of Volcanoes Stadium and the creation of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes franchise. His efforts earned him the Northwest League's Bob Freitas Award, given annually to the individual who has done the most for baseball. Additionally, Walker won the Northwest League Executive of the Year in 1997.
Walker is currently the vice president of the Northwest League and has held the league's position of executive secretary for nearly 20 years and served on the board of directors for nearly 30 years. In 2001, Walker's Volcanoes earned national recognition by Baseball America as they were named Best Class A Short Season franchise in the nation. That honor was validated in 2007, when the club was named National Team of the Year - awarded by Minor League Baseball. It marked the first time ever that a Class A Short Season team had received the prestigious award.
Other than the Volcanoes, Walker owns - along with his wife, Lisa - the Gresham GreyWolves of the West Coast League and the Klamath Falls Gems of the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League.
Jerry is a member of Rotary Clubs International, a Paul Harris Fellow and former board member of the Keizer Rotary Club. He's an active member in the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, Salem Chamber of Commerce, Travel Salem, Salem's Economic Development Corporation and is a president's advisory board member at Blanchet Catholic High School. In addition, he serves as the athletic director for St. John Bosco High School.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Washington. He, Lisa, and the couple's son, Mickey, reside in Keizer. Mickey went on to have a fabulous pitching career at Keizer's McNary High School. Mickey has played for the Klamath Falls Gems and currently plays for St. Martin's University in Lacey, Wash. Daughters Tracey Bennett and Brittany Romano reside in Temecula, Calif. and Everett, Wash., respectively, and have blessed the family with five grandchildren.
Lisa Walker began her career in baseball over 20 years ago and has since been involved with many teams, events and organizations, headlined by being selected as the National Sports Woman of the Year in 2005. Walker's sports career stretches back to the early 1990s where she worked with the Bellingham Mariners/Giants. Both clubs were members of the Northwest League of Professional Baseball in Bellingham, Wash.
In 1997, she was instrumental in the relocation of the team to Keizer, Ore., the building and design of Volcanoes Stadium, and the creation of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes franchise. Lisa assumed the role of Director of Corporate Sponsorships for the Volcanoes and worked actively for the team through their early years, helping them to become an established and respected member of the community.
In 2000, a breast cancer diagnosis changed her focus to the raising of their son, Mickey, who was born in 1997. She directed her energies towards local charities, civic, non-profit, church and school activities. In 2005, she co-founded WalkingWord, a ministry she is still a part of today.
Staying active with baseball, Lisa focused on special events for the Volcanoes and created Cancer Awareness Night in 2002. The night was dedicated to celebrating survivors. Due to its success, the event became an annual celebration and expanded to Cancer Awareness Weekend becoming a template for many other teams across the nation to follow. The 11th annual celebration was held in July 2012, with over 10,000 people attending during the weekend, including thousands of survivors and their families. As a result of her efforts for Cancer Awareness, and her countless charitable and civic activities, in 2005, Lisa was named National Woman of the Year in Sports by the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company. Lisa accepted the prestigious award at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas, at an Awards Luncheon, attended by over 3,000 baseball executives from across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Her acceptance speech was both stirring and emotional and very memorable by those in attendance.
Lisa attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. and is a mother to three and grandmother of five.
Daddy, author, serial entrepreneur, international-renowned business speaker, and amateur gardener Mitche Graf has been a passionate Serial entrepreneur for over 25 years, dangling his toes into the ponds of many intriguing industries along the way. From selling used bicycle parts out of his garage in the seventh grade to running three companies today, he has prided himself on knowing how to squeeze every drop of potential out of his endeavors.
Over the past three decades, Mitche has created two award-winning restaurants, a bustling catering & events company, a national spice manufacturing business with over 4000 accounts, a photography studio, a cribbage board company, an award-winning limousine business, a portable hot tub rental business, a drive-through espresso company, an educational products company, an athletic fitness testing corporation, and even a nightcrawler company.
Having started, built, and successfully operated numerous enterprises in a multitude of industries has taught him a simple truth: the same basic business principles apply, regardless of the arena you may play in.
As an educator and motivational speaker, Mitche's high-voltage seminars and workshops have been delivered around the world to over 75,000 people in nine countries and nearly every state in the U.S. His cutting-edge articles and columns have appeared in the pages of business trade magazines such as Rangefinder, PPA Magazine, Limo Digest, Chauffer Driven, Image Maker, and Fresh Cup, as well as many online marketing sites and blogs.
A majority of his education and training has been from the School of Hard Knocks, from which he has earned his Master's degree. Through the high-notes of his business home runs, to the low-notes of bankruptcy in the 1990s, Mitche has continued to make bold attempts to redefine the limits of his abilities, and to reinvent the way his businesses operate so they don't become all-consuming black holes that suck him dry of his creative juices and zest for life.
Getting punched in the face from failure is probably the best teacher he has ever had and most of the lessons he has learned were born out of those failures.
He firmly believes life is meant to be lived, not endured, and we each can make a profound difference in the world. He loves his family, loves his friends, and the rest just falls into place!
He is passionate about the outdoors, and laughing, playing guitar, reading, listening to great music, cooking and eating, drinking good wine, taking a tremendous amount of time off to chill, and most importantly, spending time with his family.
Mitche lives in a small country town in Oregon with his wife Tami and their three small children Jaycee, Colton, and Sierra, Tilly the Dog, Nickels the Bunny, Coral the Hermit Crab as well several hundred guppies (names not important).
He spends much of his time looking for ways to work smarter, not harder, so he can spend more time doing and enjoying the things in life that are most important to him.
He believes that EVERY DAY IS A SATURDAY, and this perspective inspires him to wake up every day with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm to live his life by design.
Rick Nelson has been with the Salem-Keizer franchise dating back to the Bellingham days and was a pivotal member in bringing baseball back to the Willamette Valley. No one knows the ins and outs of the ballpark better than Rick.
Jerry Howard, or "Howie" as he is affectionately known, has helped put Volcanoes Stadium on the map with some nationally-recognized promotional events. Most notably, Howie puts on the Volcanoes yearly Patriotic Tribute where thousands of servicemen and women have been thanked, honored and saluted over the nearly decade-long recurring event. Howie also contributes to other community outreach events such as Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities night.
Justin Lacche has been part of the Volcanoes family since 2010, now serving in an advisory role to the Walker family. "I am honored and proud of what the Walkers & the Volcanoes have achieved, including sending more than 10 players to help win three World Championships with the San Francisco Giants." Lacche has suited up for the Volcanoes for batting practice every season since 2012 -- all proceeds going to charity.
Lacche earned his MBA from Oregon State University, where he also served as President of the OSU MBA Association.