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K-Mets' GM looks to build on successful rookie season

Greg Peters • Feb 22, 2014 at 2:14 PM

KINGSPORT — Brian Paupeck has a secret: He grew up a New York Yankees fan attending games with his father.

All that changed when he took an intern position with the New York Mets organization in 2002 after studying Sports Management at Georgia Southern.

He started out as an intern and worked his way to the position of food and beverage manager for the Port St. Lucie Mets before coming to Kingsport.

In 2013, the Mets organization made changes concerning the Appalachian League, and one included taking over daily operations of the team.

Paupeck was promoted to general manager and made the move to Kingsport with his wife. He also brought with him a whole new upgrade and changes for Hunter Wright Stadium.

Those changes included new promotions, new menu items, new souvenirs. The change also saw the addition of beer sales for home games. The changes also produced the most successful team that Kingsport has seen since 1996. The Mets captured the Western Division title and were just a strike away from the championship series.

The success on the field led the way for Paupeck to be named Appalachian League Executive of the Year. But don’t call his first-year success “rookie luck.”

“I wouldn’t call it luck. Things just fell into place. On the field the team did well, especially with some players returning,” said Paupeck. “Off the field, I received great support from the home office. The award is not just for me, it’s for everyone who helped, like the part-timers whose jobs stretched from ticket-takers to concessions. There was a lot of planning and things simply fell into place.”

“The fact that it is your peers in the league voting on the award shows they saw what was going on here and they appreciated it.”

The rookie league season runs from the middle of June till late August, so for approximately 10 weeks the days for Paupeck start early and end late.

One of the first seasonal duties is trying to find housing for approximately 35 players.

“The players are down in Florida at extended spring training from February until June. So when they get here, or before, we have to find housing, and figure out transportation as well for those who don’t drive. We are also responsible for their lunch and dinner each day,” said Paupeck.

The language barrier can be a problem as some players do not speak English.

“It is not too bad. In Florida they are around other Englishspeaking players and they take English classes. They also take cooking classes to help them get familiar with a totally different menu from what they are accustomed.”

During the rookie league season Paupeck’s eye is also always on the weather. Mother Nature can play havoc with the Appalachian League schedule. He has control to postpone or delay games up until game time, then the decision falls to the umpires.

The 2013 season was no sooner ended when the wheels began turning for 2014.

“We usually spend September regrouping and reviewing the season. From there we try to prepare a budget, but basically from the New Year on is about selling advertising and gathering sponsorships,” added Paupeck.

“Our first year went really well and we were somewhere around sixth or seventh in attendance. I think what we did with sponsorships and advertising have us going in the right direction.”

Changes are already on the way for 2014 as Paupeck is working on another round of differing promotions, menu items and other surprises for the upcoming season.

The organization is putting the finishing touches on who will be members of the field staff and should be making announcements in the next few days.

A new focus for 2014 will be trying to develop a working relationship with the local school systems.

“We focus on kids and families. Since the season is during the summer most kids are on vacation but we do want to get more involved with the schools,” Paupeck said.

The 2014 Major League Baseball Draft will be held on June 5.

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