From intern to owner: Schwechheimer says goodbye after 37 years with PawSox

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Pawtucket Red Sox honored longtime Vice President and General Manager Lou Schwechheimer before their final game of the season Monday afternoon.

Schwechheimer, who’s been with the team for 37 years, announced Sunday that he would be stepping down at the end of the 2015 season.

Before the PawSox took on the Buffalo Bisons, players, staff and fans honored Schwechheimer with a ceremony on the pitcher’s mound.

“It’s been the journey of a lifetime. It’s been a magical, fairy tale journey,” Schwechheimer said Monday.

Schwechheimer started with the team as an intern, and moved his way up the ranks over the decades. During his tenure alongside President Mike Tamburro, 700 PawSox players made it to the MLB, and crowds at McCoy Stadium swelled from approximately 200 fans a night to about 10,000.

“These are the greatest fans in all of baseball,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. The fans embraced our vision.”

Schwechheimer was part of the ownership group that sold the team last year, and he stayed on as GM until Monday. He credits his success to the late Ben Mondor, the team’s original owner, who passed away in 2010.

“To go from intern to owner is really a credit to Ben,” Schwechheimer said. “He took faith in a 19-year-old kid, which I don’t know if I would have had the faith he did, but he believed in us and gave Mike and I the opportunity to chase our dreams.”

The team’s new ownership group, which includes former Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino, has faced formidable backlash for their plan to move the team out of Pawtucket.

The group’s proposal to construct a new ballpark on the former I-195 land in Providence hit a snag this week after Brown University turned down their offer to buy part of that land. The stadium plan can’t move forward without that parcel, which the school priced at $15 million.

Schwechheimer believes it’s up to the owners to decide what’s best for the future of the team, and said there’s no one more capable of getting it done than Lucchino.

“How do we preserve for Rhode Islanders and New Englanders the magic of McCoy?” he asked. “Whether it’s here or another facility, I think it’s up to the new ownership to decide what’s best for the fans moving forward.”

Schwechheimer is moving on to a new ownership group, the details of which he plans to announce later this month.

The PawSox ended their season with a 10-2 win over the Bisons.

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