Todd “Parney” Parnell operates as the Richmond Flying Squirrels Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, typically positions that come with little fanfare. Yet, he has become the public face of the organization. Parney was gracious enough to give us a few minutes of his time, providing us a chance to learn more about this important figure to the Flying Squirrels organization.
Todd “Parney” Parnell operates as the Richmond Flying Squirrels Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, typically positions that come with little fanfare. Yet, he has become the public face of the organization. It’s easy to spot Parney around Richmond, whether at a community event or taking part of one of many Flying Squirrels promotions. Parney was gracious enough to give us a few minutes of his time, providing us a chance to learn more about this important figure to the Flying Squirrels organization.
QThe Flying Squirrels are in their second year, after such a successful inaugural season, what excites you about this season?
AMany things have me even more excited this year. Our ability as the minor league baseball team in town to create a positive impact on the community is better than ever. I think the ceiling as far as how successful we can be overall continues to get higher and higher with the higher level of positive impact we make in the community, and I think that the connection between this franchise and the fan base gets better every single day.
QHow much interaction do you get with the players? Do you ever ever stay in touch with them as they climb the ladder? How cool is it to see guys like Brandon Belt and Thomas Neal get their shot in the big leagues?
AMy office is right across the hall from the home clubhouse, so I make an effort to high five or fist bump each player and staff member each day. It is our goal for their experience in Richmond to be the very best experience they have during their minor league career. They are players, but they also become friends and, in some cases, part of the family. I absolutely stay in touch with guys as they rise through their career and cannot watch Baseball Tonight without seeing someone that is a close friend. It is these relationships and those with our front office staff, community partners, and fans that make this job so rewarding. It is awesome to see players get to the big leagues, and it will be very rewarding for our fans to see guys that play here be successful in San Francisco.
QPrevious to Richmond, you spent some time in Altoona, PA. I know the Pirates have a stocked minor league system, but Altoona, PA? What did you learn most form your time there and what have you really enjoyed about being in Richmond, VA?
AIn Altoona, we had a very unique situation; very small market, but we learned how to regionalize the brand through tireless effort and marketing to the point where we felt we turned it into a large market. I also learned a lot about making a major impact in the community and how a minor league team can make a very large positive impact on the quality of life in the region. I have enjoyed too many things in Richmond to even list. Simply said, I love it here. I love the city, the history, all the many great activities to do, our fans and how connected they are to the team, the restaurants and how rewarding and inspiring it has been to be a part of “bringing baseball back to Richmond.” I plan on being here a very long time or until somebody kicks me out of here.
QYou have some buddies coming into town. Where are you taking them to dinner to get the best food and best Richmond experience (and you can’t say The Diamond)?
AWow, that is a tough question. We’d probably play golf on one of the many fine golf courses in the region and then hit several of our fine sponsors for some post round libations. Right down the street from the ballpark, Kitchen 64 has some of the best food going, and the owners and employees there are great friends of ours, as well. So many places in the Fan, and other fun places like Quaker Steak to go to. Then we’d head down to where I live in the Bottom and hit a couple of places in that section of town before probably ending the night at my neighborhood tavern, Poe’s Pub.
QAccording to your biography, you graduated with a degree in Physical Education. Was baseball always the plan, or did you have visions of donning the sweatpants and coach’s whistle?
AI played basketball in college and always wanted to be a coach. But I had a Business minor, as well, which, back in the old days when I was in school, turned into, basically, what is a sports management degree. My turning point was doing an internship at WHTM TV in Harrisburg, PA, and becoming exposed to professional and college sports behind the scenes, and that really got my foot in the door with this side of the business and the rest, they say, is history.
QSpeaking of pants, you seem to take joy in finding some outrageous pairs. What has been your favorite pair so far, and where can we get our version of Parney Pants? Any dreams of sporting your own line?
AI am not afraid at all to laugh at myself. I think it puts others at ease and helps people have a good time. I get my pants, which are from golfer John Daly’s line, from Loudmouth.com on the Internet. They are awesome, and yes, I would enjoy personally designing some at some point, and I love the name Parney Pants.
QFinally, you are cool guy. However, “Erik Estrada Night” is coming up on May 25. That night, he will be the coolest cat in the house. How are you planning on coping with it?
AI have worked with Erik before. The charisma this dude has is off the charts, and I enjoy being around him very much. I have no problem taking the backseat to Ponch. He lives every day to the fullest and tries to impact everybody he meets in a positive way. I respect that very much.