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W.Va. Power: Milovich enjoyed his time with Power

For the past two years, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans have used the slogan: "Baseball's Even Better at the Beach!"

Andy Milovich is about to find out.

After nine years in Charleston, the 43-year-old Milovich is headed to the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina. Milovich is taking over as the general manager of the Pelicans, the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

He held the position of executive vice president for the West Virginia Power, the low-Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The move was announced Saturday afternoon.

"When I was approached about the job it was an overwhelming thought," Milovich said as he and his family vacationed in Colorado for the holidays. "We've got such firm roots in Charleston; so many friends and relationships. At the end of the day, it was a compelling opportunity."

Milovich said he wasn't actively searching for a new gig, but the Pelicans interviewed a close colleague and that union didn't materialize.

When Chuck Greenberg, chairman and founder of the Greenberg Sports Group and former managing partner and CEO of the Texas Rangers, asked the interviewee if he knew of any others who might be interested, Milovich's name was bandied about.

It turned out, there was a glove-like fit.

The decision for Milovich to uproot his family and move more than 400 miles south was about as easy as hitting a Jameson Taillon curveball. But, he said, with two children (ages 3 and 2) who are not yet regulars in school, the situation seemed ideal.

"If you're going to make a move you want to do it before your kids are entrenched in school," Milovich said. "The timing, I think, for us was perfect.

"It's a great market and a great ballpark. It's an incredible location. We've got a chance to live and raise our children in a community where thousands of people dream of retiring."

The Pelicans were once known as the Durham Bulls. After spending the 1998 season in Danville, Va., the team moved to Myrtle Beach and into a new ballpark.

The organization's previous general manager, Scott Brown, left last month for the same position with the Charlotte Knights, a Class AAA International League club.

The career move had Milovich reflecting on his nine years in Charleston. He came here before the 2004 season and helped oversee the club's transition to Appalachian Power Park in 2005.

The four-year baseball letterwinner at Valparaiso recalled a conversation he had with a man shortly after arriving in the Mountain State's capital city all those years ago.

"My first day in Charleston I worked out at the YMCA and I saw a gentlemen wearing an Alley Cats T-shirt and reading the newspaper," Milovich said. "I looked at his T-shirt and he looked back at me and went back to reading his newspaper and kind of ignored me.

"It kind of caught me off-guard because I had always been in situations where everyone was excited about the team. Then he said to me, 'You've got your work cut out for you.' "

Milovich still sees the man at the YMCA, and recently the man lauded Milovich's work by saying "You guys have done a great job."

But Milovich spends less time reveling in the past than pondering the encouraging future of baseball here.

"It's not about me," he said. "It's about our ownership, our staff and everybody who has worked to make this a reality. The fans who made a push for this long before I got to town.

"Enjoying the city of Charleston and enjoying that ballpark, that's a reward you can't measure. It's hard to walk away from and it's hard to let go."

The South Bend, Ind., native felt confident in his next endeavor because of the Power's front office staff, which includes seasoned General Manager Tim Mueller; assistant GMs Jeremy Taylor (operations) and Kristin Call (marketing); Jeff Meehan, the director of food and beverage; and Adam Marco, the team's broadcaster and director of media relations.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for our ownership group," Milovich said. "I wouldn't feel good about taking off and leaving them if they weren't in great shape. I think, ultimately, they'll be fine without me."

And Milovich might find baseball life better at the beach.

*  *  *

EXPECT Mike Ryan, a former Major League Baseball player and a coach in the Pittsburgh Pirates' farm system, to be the West Virginia Power's next manager.

Milovich was mum on the potential hire, instead leaving those announcements to the Pirates.

Sources, however, have indicated that Ryan will likely fill the vacancy.

Ryan, 35, debuted in the Majors with the Minnesota Twins in 2002 and last played in the big leagues with the Los Angeles Angels in 2010. He toiled in the minors for the Pirates in 2011 and moved from player to coach before the 2012 season.

Ryan will replace Rick Sofield, who spent one season as the Power's manager before earning a promotion to the Pirates' big league club as first base coach.

Ryan will be the fourth Power manager in four seasons, following in the footsteps of Gary Green, Gary Robinson and Sofield.

Word is Jeff Johnson, who is entering his sixth season with the Pirates' organization, is set to return as the Power's pitching coach in 2013. Johnson occupied the same position with the Power from 2009-11 before moving to Class AA Altoona last season.  

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.


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