The Mariners have found their replacement for Chuck Armstrong. In fact, they’ve found two people to handle the responsibilities that the long-time team president undertook in over two decades with the organization.
On Friday, the organization announced that Kevin Mather will replace Armstrong as president and chief operating officer – a position Armstrong held for 28 years. Mather had previously served as the Mariners’ executive vice president of finance and ballpark operations.
Meanwhile, Bob Aylward, who works as executive vice president of business operations, will assume Armstrong’s duties as chairman of the board of NW Sports Net LLC, or Root Sports Northwest as it known to the public. Armstrong had served as the chairman of the board after the Mariners acquired the regional sports network last April
“Kevin and Bob have been very valuable executives of the Mariners,” Mariners chief executive officer Howard Lincoln said in a press release. “They are extremely talented, experienced and well-qualified to lead our organization into the future. There will be a seamless transition as Chuck begins his retirement one week from today.”
Both Mather and Aylward will report directly to Lincoln.
Armstrong’s tenure with the Mariners officially ends on Jan. 31. He served two stints as president from 1983-1989 and 1992 to this year.
Lincoln had said shortly after Armstrong’s retirement announcement that there were strong internal candidates to fill the void. He reiterated that sentiment a few weeks ago just before interviewing Mather and Aylward for the job. He settled on the 51-year-old Mather, who has been with the Mariners since 1996.
“His experience in the game of baseball has prepared him well for this position,” Lincoln said. “He is highly thought of around Major League Baseball and in this community. He will work closely with me to make sure Jack Zduriencik has the resources he needs to build winning teams. Jack remains the leader of the baseball side of our organization.”
Mather came to the Mariners from the Minnesota Twins, where he worked for four and half years. He was hired as vice president of finance and administration. The Mariners re-organized their front office after the 1999 season and the move to Safeco Field. Mather was promoted to his current position where he oversaw finances, ticket services, retail operations, technology, concessions and other aspects of the day-to-day workings of Safeco Field.
But this will be a new challenge.
“Our fans, first and foremost, are our focus, and we understand what they want most – a championship team,” Mather said in the release. “I am looking forward to supporting Jack Zduriencik, as he continues to lead the baseball operation and builds the Mariners both for 2014 and for future seasons. At the same time, our commitment to this community and this region will remain a top priority. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I’m excited about the Mariners future.”
Mather is a native of Madison, Wisc., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a bachelors of arts in accounting and risk/insurance. He resides in Issaquah with his wife Shannon. They have three sons: J.P., David and Steven.
Aylward was hired as the Mariners’ vice president of business and sales in 1997. He helped oversee the transition from the Kingdome to Safeco Field and was promoted to his current position in 1999, where he works with corporate sponsorships, advertising, marketing, ticket sales and broadcasting/communications aspects.
“The Mariners own a majority stake in ROOT Sports Northwest, an extremely important part of our franchise’s future,” Lincoln said. “Bob was instrumental in the Mariners acquisition of the regional sports network and will lead the network into the future. He will continue in his position as the Mariners EVP of Business Operations, and he is one of the very best in baseball.”
Aylward, a native of Pace, Miss., worked for 17 years with the Orioles, starting in 1976. He was an integral part of the construction of Camden Yards. He had later worked with the Tampa Bay Rays from 1995 to 1997, helping build the business operations before the team debuted in 1998.
“I love the game of baseball, this community and Mariners Baseball,” Said Aylward, a native of Pace, Miss., “The club’s business operations and Root Sports are integral to the future of the franchise, and I appreciate the opportunity to direct both groups.”
Aylward is a Vanderbilt grad and also attended Ohio University’s graduate program for sports administration. He and his wife Elizabeth live on Mercer Island. They have two grown daughters, Laura and Caitlin.