Sports

Mississippi GM spoke at Ohr O’Keefe Museum

Local baseball historian Gary Higginbotham (left) speaks with long-time Mississippi Braves GM Steve DeSalvo Friday. DeSalvo has been the Braves AA General Manager since 1986.
Local baseball historian Gary Higginbotham (left) speaks with long-time Mississippi Braves GM Steve DeSalvo Friday. DeSalvo has been the Braves AA General Manager since 1986. Veto Roley/Special to the Sun Herald

Steve DeSalvo has seen the Atlanta Braves make a complete cycle in his 30 years as general manager of their Double A affiliate, going from a 100-loss a year team in the 1980s to 14 consecutive division championships to being a lower-division team recently.

Friday, though, DeSalvo told the luncheon group at Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art “Our Love Affair with Baseball” that he expects the Braves to start their climb back up the National League standings soon.

“The trades have brought us a lot of good ballplayers,” DeSalvo said. “I think the future looks pretty good.”

In his capacity as vice president of the Southern League, DeSalvo said efforts were underway to keep the Bay Bears in Mobile. However, he did not have “inside information” about the team’s future.

“Parts of the stadium need some work,” DeSalvo said. “The facility right now is very inferior. I hope they do stay.”

According to DeSalvo, the perception remains that the Braves abandoned Greenville, S.C., in 2006 for Pearl.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

When Greenville Municipal Stadium opened in 1984, it was a state-of-the-art Minor League stadium. By 2000, the Braves needed a new stadium as the electrical and plumbing systems failed and the park lacked amenities newer facilities had. DeSalvo and Greenville signed an extension agreement for five years with the understanding the city would address stadium problems

“For three-and-half years, nothing happened,” DeSalvo said. “Then politics got in the way.”

Without any progress, the Braves, started looking at other locations and found Pearl. For years, Jackson hosted AA teams including the Mets and Generals, with the franchise moving to Round Rock, Texas, in 1999.

At the time, DeSalvo did not know anything about Pearl.

“We’ve had a really good run,” DeSalvo said. “We’ve been supported by the community very well.”

DeSalvo considers him fortunate to have a baseball career. His family’s background is in music. His brother, Peter DeSalvo, received a doctorate in music. DeSalvo fell in love with baseball, primarily through the play of former Yankees and Giants player Bobby Mercer.

At age 21, DeSalvo was named general manager of the Auburn Astors in the Short-Season Class A New York–Penn League. He was baseball’s youngest general manager. After bouncing around a few years, DeSalvo became the general manager of the Greenville Braves in 1986.

“The Braves are a very stable organization,” he said. “They are not going to sell the team or move it on a whim.”

  Comments