Yuma Office Staff Select Minor League Players of the Year

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Updated: October 9, 2019

by Roberta Umor

Yuma, AZ; 18 October 2029—In the absence of a General Manager, Asst. GM, Manager, Bench Manager and any owners, Roberta Tipitina took over day to day duties running the Yuma Bulldozer front office.

Yuma’s GM is still residing 324 miles west of Yuma in the Camarillo State Hospital. The Assistant GM—former Asst. GM—Pam Postema had recently been fired, as had acting team manager Billy Hawk. And while Kunitaro Aoki had just signed a 3-year contract as the new Dozer manager, Aoki is still in the early stages of relocating his family to Yuma from West Virginia, where he managed the Alleghenies for six years. No one has yet been appointed to replace Hawk as Bench Coach, which leaves the staff in the Bulldozer front office without a boss. But not without a leader.

Ms. Tipitina was originally hired by GM Mayberry, and she has survived several changes in Dozer leadership. While Asst. GM Postema ostensibly ran the club, assuming the absent GM’s responsibilities, Tipitina stepped up and ran the front office. Now, with Postema and Mayberry and Hawk gone, Tipitina stepped it up again.

“My legs are getting tired with all this stepping up,” she said in an interview with the Yuma Times. “But somebody’s got to do it. This ball club doesn’t run itself. Today, we’re deciding on the Player of the Year awards.”

 The directive from the PEBA Commissioner’s Office to select Minor League Players of the Year was delivered to the Bulldozer front office by the recently hired mail clerk, Dennis Rae, who graduated from Gila Ridge High School in East Yuma this past June.

“Letter from the Commissioner? Oh yeah, I remember that. Looked important. So I laid it on the General Manager’s desk, just like I was told to by Ms. Tipitina.”

The young mail clerk did not know who picked up the mail after he left it on the absent GM’s desk.

“I did,” said staff assistant Denise Stevens. “Part of my daily chores. Bring the mail to the office manager. I left it in her in-box.”

“But I never received it,” said Roberta Tipitina. “It disappeared somewhere between the GM’s desk and my in-box.”

When asked if mail typically went missing in the office, Tipitina replied, “No, it’s pretty rare. Usually it’s just been delivered to the wrong person and we straighten that out pronto. No, this is unusual, though not too surprising.”

Why not?

“Things in this office have been unsettled recently, what with the firing of Pam and Billy. We’re like a ship without a captain.”

When it was pointed out that everyone in the office praised her having stepped up and taken command of the “ship,” she replied, “Yeah, but having the first mate try to run things just isn’t the same as having a captain. When we need to make a decision, like choosing Minor League Players of the Year, we have no one to turn to. I reached out to Emma Span for advice, but she’s on vacation, I think. Somewhere in the Azores. So I tried contacting the owners directly—most of them live here in Yuma—but they are conspicuously absent.”

Conspicuously?

Roberta leaned in to whisper her reply. “Rumor has it several of the owners have left town, for good. What happens to their share of the team is anybody’s guess.”

So, in the absence of any leadership outside the front office, how have decisions been made?

“I called the staff together yesterday, when we first realized we needed to choose the Players of the Year, and we talked it over.”

How did she know the selections needed to be made if the letter was lost?

“Oh, that’s funny!” Roberta said, smiling. “Pam called to see if we had a copy of Emma Span’s book, 90% of the Game is Half Mental. She said she’d read the book when Emma was first appointed spokeswoman for the owners, and she’d enjoyed it! Said it was funny. Now she wants to reread it. I think she has a different take on Emma’s humor now.”

Roberta chuckled over the memory; when asked again about the Players of the Year selections, she said, “Oh, Pam asked who was making the choice this year. It was the first I’d heard about it. So she told me that it usually needed to be done this time of year and that there’d be a reminder from the Commissioner’s office, though we might as well get started on it now.”

So, how is the decision being made, in the absence of owners, General Managers or managers?

“We’re doing it, right here, in the office, all of us, the office staff. Dennis is collecting the stats for us, Denise is providing photos and bios of the leading candidates, and we’ll gather here in the office to discuss it in about, oh, well, as soon as you’re done with this interview.”

So we left Roberta and her staff to make their decisions. Later, Roberta informed us by phone that the office staff awarded the honors to the Kivalina ace, José Tojeira, who was 12-1 with an 0.87 ERA for the Bowheads in the Alaska League and to second baseman Mathieu Bouchard, acquired from Bakersfield in a 5-player deal on July 23 and assigned to the Kivalina team. He promptly won the Alaska League Batter of the Month Award, finishing the season with a .304/.386/.406 split for Kivalina.

Bouchard and Tojeira were instrumental in helping Kivalina get to the Alaska League Championship Series, where they were finally defeated in seven games by the Taku Wind.

If future Dozer decisions are handled as neatly and democratically as this one, the organization might see a change in its fortunes. Still, much depends on the new manager, Aoki, and whoever is appointed GM.