Pat O’Conner has spent 32 years in professional baseball, including the last 22 in the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) office. He joined the Minor League Baseball staff in May 1993 as Chief Operating Officer and added the title of Vice President, Administration in December 1995. Pat was elected the 11th president of Minor League Baseball in December 2007. He was re-elected for a second term in December 2011.
Since arriving at the Minor League Baseball headquarters, O’Conner has overseen a period when the organization experienced staggering increases in revenue among its 160 teams. Minor League Baseball also set new attendance records for five consecutive years from 2004-08, including topping 43-million in 2008 for the first time since the organization was founded in 1901.
O’Conner is credited with negotiating three successive Professional Baseball Agreements with Major League Baseball on behalf of Minor League Baseball, the latest of which runs through the 2020 season. These agreements define the relationship between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball and have framed the modern-era structure for Minor League Baseball throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin America, while creating a healthy financial environment for all clubs in the association.
His achievements with Minor League Baseball also include developing, administering and overseeing the operation of the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation (PBUC). O’Conner also negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU) and oversaw the negotiations that resulted in a five-year agreement lasting through 2016. O’Conner also helped to end a 67-day Minor League umpires’ strike which lasted from April 6 to June 12, 2006.
He has successfully led efforts to realign Minor League Baseball leagues in a manner to capitalize on geography and effectively address Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball needs. Additionally, Pat brought together Minor League Baseball clubs in packaging digital rights, entering into an agreement with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) in a landmark Internet Management Rights Agreement (IMRA) between the organizations in December 2008.
Under Pat’s guidance, Minor League Baseball announced a first-ever diversity initiative in 2009, whereby it executes programs aimed at diversifying the ownership, executive and staff personnel, fan base and business-to-business relationships within the industry. O’Conner also embarked on a series of steps to introduce Minor League Baseball as an investment, career, entertainment and business option to the diverse community. O’Conner developed a speakers’ series at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as a means of educating and informing young people on the opportunities within Minor League Baseball, as well as practicum and internship experience opportunities for minority college students interested in a sports administration career.
As a result of his diversity initiative and efforts, Pat was named the recipient of the third annual Allan H. (Bud) Selig Mentoring Award in 2010. The award is presented annually to a person in athletics administration who has been at the forefront in creating equal opportunities for minorities in the field of athletics. The award is presented by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which founded the John McLendon Scholarship Awards program and the John McLendon Foundation. Each year, the McLendon Foundation Steering Committee, comprised of the 15 minority Division I-A athletics directors, selects the winner. The award was established in 2007 and is named in honor of then Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.
In 2012, Pat was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the United Athletes Foundation (UAF) for his work in making a difference in the lives of others and his longstanding commitment to communities around the country. The UAF is a non-profit organization whose mission is to leverage the celebrity status of professional athletes to impact positive change in their communities. Reggie Howard, who played cornerback for seven seasons in the NFL with Carolina, Miami and New Orleans, founded UAF in 2008 and serves as its President & Executive Director.
At the 2012 Baseball Winter Meetings, O’Conner introduced Project Brand: 160 Teams, One Brand, an industry-wide marketing program created to promote its model of affordable, family-friendly entertainment in order to attract major corporate sponsors to Minor League Baseball.
O’Conner is credited with developing Minor League Baseball’s “Green Team” initiative to make Minor League Baseball teams and stadiums more eco-friendly and cost effective.
Minor League Baseball also purchased a new office complex in O’Conner’s first term as President in 2009. The three building campus has 14,000 square feet of office space and is located on 2.35 acres in north St. Petersburg, Florida.
Pat began his baseball career as Administrative Assistant with the Vero Beach Dodgers (Florida State League) in 1981. He then spent the 1982 season as General Manager of the Greenwood Pirates (South Atlantic League) and followed that stint with two seasons as Assistant General Manager of the Beaumont Golden Gators (Texas League).
After 18 months as Director of Athletic Marketing and Promotion for Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, O’Conner returned to baseball in November 1986. At that time, he became head of Florida Operations for the Houston Astros and served as general manager of the Osceola Astros of the Florida State League from 1986-1993. Pat was named the Florida State League Executive of the Year in 1988, as Osceola posted the best record in the league at 83-54.
A native of Grove City, Ohio, O’Conner received a degree in economics and finance from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and a master’s in Sports Administration from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.
Pat received the 1997 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Ohio University Sports Administration Program and the 2005 College of Health & Human Services Award of Distinction from Ohio University. He was inducted into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame in 2000 and received the Friends of Baseball Chapel Award in 2005.
Minor League Baseball, formally known as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc. (NAPBL), is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida. It has a staff of 42 full-time employees and oversees 20 leagues and 254 clubs in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The organization has five subsidiary companies, the Professional Baseball Promotion Corporation (PBPC); Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation (PBUC); Minor League Baseball Charities; Baseball Internet Rights Company, LLC (BIRCO); and MiLB Enterprises LLC.