Lakewood BlueClaws Purchased By Shore Town Baseball

As a native of New Jersey, Bob Tamashunas knew what the Lakewood BlueClaws had to offer. With one of the best ballparks in the country as well as a dedicated, localized fan base that passionately roots for both the parent Phillies and the BlueClaws themselves, the club consistently produced one of the best fan experiences in the minor leagues.

And as a former partner in Mandalay Baseball, he knew all the factors were there to get back into the game.

“This opportunity came about and we saw the opportunity to invest in a team in our backyard. We saw an opportunity to get back in baseball on a personal level with the business background we had with Mandalay,” Tamashunas said. “We put together a group to create a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we had the wherewithal to make that opportunity come true.”

The purchase, which was initiated late last year, became final on Thursday. Tamashunas, along with former Mandalay partner Bill Luby and former Mandalay CEO Art Matin, formed Shore Town Baseball and bought a controlling interest in the BlueClaws.

Since selling the last Mandalay-owned team, the Erie SeaWolves, the group had been out of the game for a couple of years. There had been other chances to purchase clubs, but none seemed as attractive as the opportunity with Lakewood.

“I’d gotten calls about other teams, but none of it seemed as appealing as Lakewood,” Matin said. “This is a very successful franchise with a great track record over the last 16 years. The market with Ocean and Monmouth County was interesting too.”

Tamashunas and his family live in nearby Monmouth County and, as a Phillies fan, had been to BlueClaws games at FirstEnergy Park over the years. He coaches his 9-year-old son’s travel ball team, and would sometimes take the kids to Lakewood afterward.

Because Lakewood is just 90 minutes north of the Phillies’ home of Citizens Bank Park, plenty of Phillies fans can get a look at future big leaguers near where they already live and work. That’s true of two of most Phillies farm clubs as well; Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Double-A Reading and short-season Williamsport can all be found in Pennsylvania. Only high Class A Clearwater, which plays its games at the Phillies’ spring training home in Clearwater, Fla., requires a major road trip.

That phenomenon was a big part of the reason the BlueClaws were attractive to Shore Town Baseball.

“We’re a group of investors who enjoy working together and we look at it as personal single-team investment instead of a portfolio, Matin said. “The affiliation with the Phillies was big. They’ve got a terrific reputation as a club. This fits with their long-term strategy of player development. Their fans knew about Ryan Howard before he hit the Phillies. Being local helps.”\

The timing of the sale was not coincidental. With roughly a month left in the season, Matin, Luby and Tamashunas can watch their new club closely on a day-by-day basis and find out which areas they’d like to improve for next season.

One of the hallmarks, the group believes, of an excellent minor league team is creating an excellent fan experience. Win or lose, a fan should leave a ballpark with a smile and a feeling of an evening well-spent.

“It’s the consistency of the product. You’re going to expect that the experience is going to go well,” Tamashunas said. “A ballpark is just somewhere to go and have a good time. It’s about customer service and creating a good experience for people from April 5 to Aug. 5.”

Shore Town now will look to hire top front-office executives and assess what can be added to the ballpark, but for now, the group is happy it’s back in the game with one of the best teams the minor leagues has to offer.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone