By Tommy Takayoshi
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
On Oct. 4, Minor League Baseball announced that Fran Riordan, a native of Amherst, was named the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.
This is Riordan’s second time being named manager of the year in his coaching career. Under his guidance, the Las Vegas Aviators achieved an overall record of 75-74 (.503) and 41-34 (.547) in the second half, which earned the Aviators second place in the west division of the PCL. The Aviators were in contention for the second-half championship in the playoff race right up until the last weekend of the season. Another accolade to mention is that Riordan was also named the 2019 PCL Manager of the Year with a record of 83-57.
After an interview, Riordan had this to say when asked about the year: “Yeah, it was a great year and it was awesome to be surrounded by such a great group of guys.”
I then asked what it meant to him to be named manager of the year, “It was a huge honor,” Riordan said. “I could not be more happier to represent the Aviators and the Oakland Athletics.”
To get a player’s perspective, I interviewed Kyle McCann who played for Riordan during the 2023 year.
“Fran was a great manager – you could tell how much he really enjoyed being at the field and being around the players, and that kind of attitude is contagious and everyone loves being around people like that,” McCann said.
Roots in Western New York
Riordan is a native of Western New York and attended Canisius High School in Buffalo. After high school, he attended Allegany College in Pennsylvania.
Why is this important to Western New York? With the winters being tough, it is really difficult to get outside and play baseball in Western New York. With people like Riordan winning accolades and awards, I believe it does more to grow the game in the community.
He has accumulated 23 seasons in professional baseball in total and has been part of the Oakland Athletics organization for the past nine seasons, from 2015-23. In addition, he completed his fifth season as a Triple-A manager, with one season in 2018 with Nashville and four seasons with Las Vegas in 2019 and from 2021-23. Riordan was also honored as a Manager of the Year in 2008 while with Kalamazoo in the Frontier League, which is an independent league. Throughout his 22-year managerial career, he has amassed a total record of 1,235 wins and 1,196 losses.
Assistant hitting coach and first base coach of the Las Vegas Aviators Todd Takayoshi had this to say about what it was like working under Riordan for the 2023 season, “It was great. Fran really knows how to run a ball club well, and he was someone that really cared about the players, which is something you do not see very often.”
Accomplishment Grows Game of Baseball in New York; Inspiration for Local Talent
Riordan's recent recognition as the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year offers an inspiring example for aspiring athletes in Western New York. His journey from a local enthusiast to a renowned manager underscores the attainability of professional success with hard work and dedication. This newfound belief encourages young players to set their sights on professional baseball careers and invest extra effort in their development.
Increased Interest and Participation
Riordan's success story causes a resurgence of interest in baseball across Western New York, resulting in a growing fan base and heightened attendance at local games. Parents, inspired by Riordan, are encouraging more children to embrace the sport, leading to increased participation in youth baseball leagues. This wave of enthusiasm fosters community engagement and event sponsorship, strengthening the sport's bond with the local community.
Promoting Local Baseball Programs
Riordan's recognition has the potential to transform and promote local baseball programs. Increased funding becomes a possibility, enabling program enhancements, improved facilities and better coaching. This boost in resources allows programs to focus on talent development and offer specialized training.
With a competitive edge, Western New York teams can attract scouts and college recruiters, providing players with numerous opportunities to advance their baseball careers.
In summary, Riordan's journey and recognition inspire talent, boost interest and participation, and promote growth in local baseball programs, promising a brighter future for the sport in the region.
This is a Niagara University student-created piece completed as part of the course CMS 226A. For more information, contact the Niagara Frontier Publications’ managing editor.