Brohm says he is ready / D3
WHEN Sam Katz walked away from city hall last year, it wasn’t long before he strolled back into a familiar haunt and set up a new office at Shaw Park.
For the decade he served as mayor of Winnipeg, Katz had to take an arm’slength approach to running the professional baseball team he founded in 1994. Most years, he only managed to catch a handful of Winnipeg Goldeyes games. Now, a little more than a year after Katz announced he would not contest a fourth mayoral election, everything has changed.
There are fewer functions for the ex-mayor these days, and no more fussy formalities. “His worship?” That’s gone. Instead, Katz said, “I’m just Sam.”
By all appearances, the return to private life is treating the 63-year-old just fine. These days, you’re far more likely to spot him wearing shorts than a suit. When the Free Press sat down with the Goldeyes owner Tuesday afternoon, he joked about his choice of footwear: a pair of sock-less slip-on shoes.
Sartorial flexibility aside, leaving city hall has made the biggest impact on Katz’ family life. His daughters Ava, 14, and Kiera, 10, are seeing more of their father than ever. His youngest child, son Aidan, turns three in November, the same month his wife, Leah, is expecting the couple’s second child together.
For the youngest Katz children, that means they will grow up only knowing their dad as an indie-league baseball team owner.
With all that in mind, the Free Press met up with Katz to chat about getting back to running the Goldeyes, raising a family, and why some folks at the grocery store still think he can solve their civic woes. (We’ve edited the interview for clarity and space.)
Let’s start off with, how does it feel to be back at Shaw Park on more days than not?
After being away for 10 years, it feels really good. It’s something I was really good at, too, so it’s great to be back. Every so often, you need to change things up.
When you look around the park now, what do you see?
To me, it’s all about the fans. That’s why we created baseball. When we originally started this in our first season, it was all about quality and affordable family entertainment. Bring a family of four to a ball game for $20, which was hard to do with anything else. I used to use the comparison: if you deliver papers for any newspaper, you could afford to go to a Goldeyes game.
So what’s it going to be like when nobody delivers newspapers anymore?
(Laughing) You know, 10 years ago, I never thought of that, so things are changing. I’ll come up with another analogy, I can assure you.
In the 10 years you’ve been gone, this franchise has changed leagues, won a championship and said goodbye to a lot of favourite players. What do you notice has changed?
The franchise itself hasn’t changed, but the environment in our city has changed drastically. For example, when the (NHL’s) Jets came back, which was fantastic for the city, that changed the landscape. Now we have the (AHL’s) Moose coming back. So there are things around us that are changing.
With a franchise, you’re always going to have your field manager, you’re going to have your coaches, you’re going to have your 22 players, you’re going to have your travel on the bus. So things are always the same.
Every so often there’s a rule change, and I’m on the executive now of the American Association, which means we have our monthly meetings to address certain issues. As you know right now, we have 13 teams in our league, which is pretty good with inter-league play with the Can-Am League.
Things are always changing, but the game of baseball is the same. Nothing changes there, except the new rule change about extra innings in a tie game (ed.: starting in the 11th inning, each team starts with a runner on second base), which I personally detest. But c’est la vie, it is what it is.
The Frontier League is coming up. The American Association has been very stable, but there are now other pressures.
There’s always pressures. Don’t ever think for a moment that there isn’t. You’ll never have a year you don’t have some troubled franchise. For Winnipeg, travel was always an issue. It’s where