Mariners President & CEO Chuck Armstrong Steps Down In Surprise Move
Mariners President & CEO Chuck Armstrong yesterday made the "somewhat surprising announcement" that he would step down, according to a front-page piece by Ryan Divish of the SEATTLE TIMES. Armstrong in a statement said, "It is now time for me to retire and enjoy as much time as possible with my wife, Susan, and our family. The recent deaths of several good friends have really had an impact on me and helped crystallize my decision." Armstrong's retirement will go into effect Jan. 31, but the organization will "begin the search for his replacement and a transition plan immediately." The Mariners under Armstrong "made four playoff appearances, including a major-league record 116 wins in 2001." He also was "instrumental in the construction of Safeco Field." But the "memories of that golden era of Mariners success have faded in the recent run of on-field disappointment and losing seasons, which has led to dwindling attendance, a slew of different field managers and increasing criticism from fans." Former Mariners Owner George Argyros hired Armstrong in '83, but Armstrong "was dismissed when Argyros sold the team" to Jeff Smulyan in '89. With the Mariners "up for sale and possible relocation to Tampa Bay looming in 1991, Armstrong was asked by U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton to work with a group of local investors led by Seattle businessman John Ellis to keep the team in Seattle." With the "additional backing of Nintendo, the Baseball Club of Seattle purchased the team" in '92. Armstrong was "immediately brought back to serve as team president" (SEATTLE TIMES, 11/26). MLB.com's Greg Johns noted Armstrong also was active in the league office, where he "served on the board of directors" of MLB Enterprises, the 14-member Commissioner's Special Committee for On-Field Matters, the MLB Int'l Committee and the Commissioner's Ticketing Review Committee (MLB.com, 11/25).
STARTING OVER: In Seattle, Larry Stone writes Armstrong's retirement is a "welcome development for a Mariners' franchise that desperately needs cleansing." Armstrong has become "irretrievably linked to the decline of the franchise, and it is beyond time for a new vision at the top." Stone: "Here's hoping they get a baseball man who can restore the plummeting faith of a fan-base beaten down by bad baseball and clumsy off-field machinations." However, from a "purely business standpoint, Armstrong has been spectacularly successful" (SEATTLE TIMES, 11/26).