I first met Geoff Brown in November of 1999 when he was introduced as General Manager of what would be a new minor league baseball team in Lakewood.  At that time the team did not have a name or even a stadium and they were working out of temporary offices in the Lakewood Industrial Park. 

Brown came to Lakewood after spending six years in minor league baseball working for the Norwich Navigators and Trenton Thunder and was clearly excited about the opportunity to run a brand-new organization.

Three months later I was back in the industrial park where Brown announced that Lakewood Blue Claws was chosen as the name of the team and it was a couple of months after that when the first shovels were put into the ground at what is now FirstEnergy Park.   The BlueClaws would make their debut April 5, 2001 in Kannapolis, North Carolina and I was there having flown down the day before to do special reports on the radio.

Of course the BlueClaws have been a hit since day one both on and off the field.  Players, managers and front office staff have come and gone but the one constant has been Geoff Brown, whose title may be General Manager but is really the face of the franchise. Or should I say was the face of the franchise.

BlueClaws General Manager Geoff Brown Announcing First Energy Park Hosting the 2013 All Star game while in Seaside Heights (Townsquare Media NJ)

I’m sure many were stunned by yesterday’s announcement that Brown will be leaving minor league baseball after 19 years to become Senior Associate Athletic Director/Chief Marketing Officer for Rutgers University Athletics.  His last day with the BlueClaws will be Friday, February 8th and he’ll begin his tenure in Piscataway working under Athletic Director Tim Pernetti the following Monday.

For Brown the decision and move was not an easy one and certainly not one he made overnight.  He’s been comfortable in Lakewood and built a model minor league organization, one that has led the South Atlantic League in attendance in every year of their existence.  He’s been honored as GM of the year three times and has become a fixture in the community through his work with many charitable and civic organizations.  However the Rutgers job comes at an exciting time as the Scarlet Knights are getting ready to move into the Big Ten.

While he may have to do some traveling Geoff, his wife Suzanne and two children will remain in Manasquan and he’ll probably get to spend a lot more time on the beach. I will really miss seeing him at the ballpark and in the community but now I know who to call for tickets when Penn State plays Rutgers.  And I will call!