Year Inducted – 2018
Nineteen year Minor League Baseball executive Jim Pfander was named president of Fast Forward Sports Group LLC in October 2015 and has served as the general manager of the Akron RubberDucks since October 18, 2012.
Pfander, an Akron native, is only the second general manager in Aeros/RubberDucks history, and was the first executive hired by team owner and Fast Forward Sports Group founder Ken Babby. For Pfander, it was a return to the organization where he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Aeros in 2011.
Under Pfander’s leadership, the Akron franchise has risen into one of Minor League Baseball’s premier franchises.
The team underwent a successful company-wide, identity change from the Akron Aeros to the Akron RubberDucks after the 2013 season, and it has witnessed record-breaking attendance growth and set single-game records. Pfander has also overseen more than $7 million in improvements to Canal Park, including the installation of one of the largest HD video boards in Minor League Baseball, the addition of The Game Grill + Bar, the Fowl Territory picnic area, the Tiki Terrace and Tiki Bar group areas, as well as the exclusive special-event Duck Club at Canal Park. Prior to the 2016 season, Pfander oversaw a complete renovation of the stadium’s playing field and drainage systems.
The 2016 season also saw the RubberDucks and Canal Park host Akron’s first Eastern League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, which drew more than 14,000 fans and national attention to the city. The season concluded with the RubberDucks winning the franchise’s fifth EL championship, and its first since 2012.
In addition to several new special events at Canal Park, Pfander helped the RubberDucks build a reputation as a leader in affordable family fun. With unique ballpark promotions, to go along with the creative concessions, including the Extreme Foods Menu, helped earn the franchise the prestigious 2015 Larry MacPhail Award, which goes to the Minor League Baseball team with the most outstanding and creative marketing and promotional efforts. Following the 2016 season, the team was chosen as the Eastern League’s nominee for Minor League Baseball’s top award, the John H. Johnson President’s Award, which is used to honor a franchise with demonstrated stability while making significant contributions in its community, its league, and with the baseball industry. Additionally, Pfander was named Eastern League Executive of the Year for the 2016 season.
Other stops besides Akron during Pfander’s 19-year career include various positions with teams in Charleston, South Carolina; Brockton, Massachusetts; Port Charlotte, Florida; and Spokane, Washington.
Pfander is a graduate of Archbishop Hoban High School and Ohio University. He began his baseball career as an intern in the Cleveland Indians broadcasting department in 2000, prior to several assignments with minor league teams across the country. He resides in Akron with his wife, Page, and daughters, Olivia and Ella.