Jason Dambach could have seen himself in State College for a long time.
But a new opportunity arose for the lifelong Pennsylvanian and State College Spikes general manager around Christmas.
Spikes chairman and managing partner Chuck Greenberg asked Dambach if he’d be interested in a move to the front office of Greenberg’s recently purchased Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
“I was humbled, I was honored and definitely the first conversation went back to, ‘What about the Spikes?’” Dambach said. “We need to make sure that the Spikes remain vibrant, remain strong. I don’t want to make any moves that would compromise the well-being of the franchise.”
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After helping develop a plan for the State College staff, Dambach accepted the position of executive vice president and general manager of the RoughRiders, the Spikes announced Monday. Dambach, who served as State College’s general manager since January 2009, will oversee the Spikes’ business operations as the team’s president. Scott Walker has been named the Spikes’ general manager, while Dan Petrazzolo will be the assistant general manager of operations.
Walker, a Bellefonte Area High School graduate, was the team’s vice president of sales. Petrazzolo was the senior director of ballpark operations.
Dambach, a Punxsutawney native and Clarion graduate, started his career with the Altoona Curve.
After working in broadcasting and communications positions for Altoona from 1999-2008, Dambach was State College’s general manager for six years.
“It’s definitely bittersweet because my roots are in Pennsylvania,” Dambach said. “All 38 years of my life have been spent in Pennsylvania. All 16 years of my professional career have been with the two franchises in Central Pa., with the Altoona Curve and the State College Spikes. I love what the franchises have done for the communities they’re in, for the region. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to be part of that.”
Greenberg bought the Frisco franchise in August.
Dambach said he made the decision to take the RoughRiders job this past week. He said he’s worked with Greenberg for 13 years and trusted him when presented with the opportunity.
Dambach was ready for a new challenge, and he’s looking forward to the opportunity with the team in the Dallas area. But he’ll also remain a part of the the Spikes’ organization. He said his role overseeing the business operations will include keeping an eye on the finances and maintaining relationships with the parent St. Louis Cardinals, Minor League Baseball and Penn State.
“Definitely not a move that I would have made without the opportunity to still stay involved with the Spikes, so that was really important,” Dambach said. “I think consistency for the franchise at a higher level was really important and we have a lot of confidence in Scott Walker taking over as GM. But I definitely wanted to make sure that I still had at least a fingerprint on the franchise.”
Walker, 30, can remember watching construction begin on Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
He will now be the Spikes’ general manager for the franchise’s 10th season.
“I remember driving past the place saying to myself that I want to work there one day,” Walker said. “And the fact that I’m able to work my way up and become a GM after nearly a decade of ambition and work is truly a dream come true.”
Walker started his career as a box office intern with Altoona in 2007. He joined the Spikes’ staff in 2009 as the director of group sales and earned promotions to director of ticket sales and director of corporate sales.
He became the team’s vice president of sales in September 2012.
Walker said the Spikes will continue to strive to provide the best product they can. To do that, staff members will remain in roles that fit their strengths.
Walker said he will continue to work to grow community relationships and sponsorship for the team.
“We’re going to remain consistent with our beliefs in serving the community,” Walker said.
The Spikes open the 2015 season at home on June 19 against the Williamsport Crosscutters.