Written by Arkansas Real Estate
This week we had an amazing opportunity to chat with Justin Cole, the new General Manager of the Naturals Minor League Baseball Team. As sad as we were to hear Eric Edelstein was transitioning on to the Reno Aces, we were also elated that Justin Cole who has been with the Naturals for several years would be stepping up into that role. Justin brings energy to his new role, and we were thrilled to chat with him about what this change has been like. Thank you, Justin, for your commitment to the community!
What was the impact of having the all-star game hosted here?
Phenomenal event to host, not only for the ballpark, but for all of Northwest Arkansas. We had over 6,200 fans in attendance and Matt Fields, the Naturals first baseman, hit 24 total home runs to win the Tyson Foods Home Run Derby. An All-Star Gala, held at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on June 24th, was also held with Willie Wilson, a KC Royals Hall of Famer, as our keynote speaker and over $5,000 was raised for the Arkansas Children's Hospital. It was an honor for us to be able to host it!
How is the season wrapping up?
The Naturals are currently playing very well. We're in the fight with the Arkansas Travelers for the second half North Division Championship and I expect that battle to go right down until the end of the season. Brett Eibner has played extremely well the past month, leading the team with 8 home runs in July and being named Texas League Player of the Week during the month as well. Recently promoted Kyle Zimmer also was dominant, going 2-0 with 19 strikeouts in his first 2 outings with the Naturals. Lot of excitement as we finish out the regular season.
What has been the most exciting thing about your new role with the Naturals?
Getting introduced and working directly with so many great people, and great supporters of the Naturals. We're very lucky to have such loyal fans and sponsors, and getting to know a much wider array of that group has been very exciting. There are also plenty of new challenges that my new role entails that are a great learning experience for me, and hopefully will allow me to continue the Naturals on the great track we've been on since our arrival.
Tell us about yourself...
I am from Barker, NY, and graduated from Barker High School in 1999. I attended College at SUNY Buffalo and received my degree in Communications, with a Marketing Minor, in December 2002. I started my career in Minor League Baseball as an intern with the Buffalo Bisons, also owned by our parent company Rich Products, back in 2002 and have continued on with the same company, working for their different teams. I was in Wichita from 2004 - 2007 and transitioned us out of that facility, arriving in Springdale to serve as Assistant GM for the Naturals in September 2007. My favorite sports teams are the Kansas City Royals and the Buffalo Bills. I love following and attending all aspects of sport, and I typically spend most of my time outside of work watching or attending sporting events.
What can we look forward to for the remainder of this season and going into next spring?
We have a pretty full slate of games in August with 17 total games to finish out our 2013 regular season. There are 5 fireworks shows remaining, as well as a special visit on Thursday August 29th from TV's 'Saved By The Bell' star Dennis Haskins, who played Mr. Belding on the show. That will also serve as our teacher appreciation night with special discounts for local teachers. Heading into next spring we expect to have another exciting team, packed with Royals prospects, and we'll also continue to improve the ballpark experience. The 7th season will welcome our 2nd inductee into the Naturals Hall of Fame, Arvest Ballpark will have full wireless internet capabilities for fans, as well as numerous other cosmetic and experiential improvements were just now starting on.