Nearly three months after veteran general manager Bruce Baldwin stepped down from his post with Triple-A Gwinnett, the second-year franchise tapped another experienced front-office executive to fill his shoes.
North Johnson, who has spent the past three seasons running the high Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, was named general manager of the Gwinnett Braves this morning. Johnson has spent 32 years as a minor league general manager, including stints with the high Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (2004-06) and the high Class A Kinston Indians (1987-2003).
Johnson has been named Carolina League executive of the year four times, the most recent coming in 2008 when he oversaw the Pelicans' $2.5 million renovation project and guided the team to a club-record attendance total. That experience should come in handy with Gwinnett, which is entering its second season since relocating from Richmond to a new ballpark in the Atlanta suburb. The G-Brave's 2009 debut was mixed, as the club drew an average of 5,966 fans–a 34 percent increase from its final season in Richmond, but a showing that ranked 12th in the 14-team International League.
Johnson will be charged with improving Gwinnett's weeknight attendance, which sagged significantly from the weekend crowds due largely to heavy-commuter population in the congested Atlanta region. "People get up and leave at 6 a.m. and get home from work at 7 at night," Baldwin previously said of Gwinnett's fan demographic.
"North has a proven track record of success everywhere he's been and we think he is the perfect fit for the Gwinnett Braves," Atlanta Braves executive vice president of business operations Mike Plant said in a release. "We look forward to his leadership with the team and in the community."
"In what has been an extremely difficult decision for me and my family, I have accepted another position that will offer me an amazing opportunity to advance my career," Johnson said in a release by Myrtle Beach. "This new opportunity is one that was impossible to turn down."
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