Muntean aims to have Knights dressed for success

The tux looked pretty good on him on Opening Night two weeks ago.

Nashua Silver Knights general manager Rick Muntean was dressed for success.

And success is something he’s vowed will continue take place with the Nashua Silver Knights, who have tasted plenty on and off the field.

Muntean loves a good show. He has put on plenty of them in the minor leagues and also in summer collegiate baseball. He’s loving the fact that the Silver Knights will host the 2018 Futures League All-Star Game on July 17 and that the celebration of Holman Stadium’s 80th birthday will take place at that event. The Youngstown, Ohio native is constantly finding out things completely new to him about his new home, the sports history of Nashua and Holman.He heard about a character called Monkey Boy that was trademark of the Nashua Pride. That is right up Muntean’s alley, so he called the creature, aka Chris Ames, that kids used to beg their parents to let them go see, and secured him for the Holman Anniversary event.

“I got him,” he said the other day. “Called him, talked to him for awhile, and he’s coming.”

So if Muntean can pull that off, can he do something that hasn’t been done by any franchise operator at Holman, turn it into a team that isn’t captive to its walk-up attendance? As he has gone through the first two weeks of his inaugural season as the Silver Knights boss, he thinks he can.

“Like I said way back when, I want to take a look at what we do and see what we need to do to tweak it,” Muntean said. “I’m getting there. And I’ve got some pretty good ideas.

“And it’s early. We’re going to have as good a year as we’ve had, and next year will be even better.”

Summer starts now. This is the time now when Nashua should take off. Kids will be out in the city by mid-week and the team, after a visit to Worcester on Tuesday, has four games in the next five nights at Holman, including its first Saturday night.

How have things been so far? Not bad,considering. The Silver Knights have two 2,000-plus crowds, two Sunday crowds over 1,000, but it’s June schedule is horrible. Too many early weeknight games, and after Opening Night two weeks ago there isn’t another Friday Fireworks Night game until July 6. That’s more than a month gap.

“It’s horrid,” Muntean said. “And we don’t have enough of (the Fridays). I’m pleased with the attendance number of what we’ve been dealt with.

“But we have to do better. We have to do better with groups, and I’m going to keep saying that until the day we do.

“And the (cooler) weather (of last week)? I love it, but it’s not good for selling baseball tickets,” Muntean said. “So based on that, I’m OK. I’m all right.”

If you read between the lines, he wishes the Sunday crowds were better, too, but he was told they were better than most of past years. He tweaked the Soup Kitchen donation promo to benefit both the fans and increase the donations and it’s worked so far.

“Those are good crowds, OK, good to hear,” Muntean said. “The sponsor of that was going to be out, but I said, ‘Let’s try this on a Sunday’ and it worked. We’ve got so many non-perishable things I’m going to have to take them in right away.”

Ah, but Muntean is a perfectionist. Opening Night was fun, festive, but there were still empty seats. If he has his way, that won’t be the case next season.

“When you win back-to-back titles, you expect there to be that enthusiasm about the new year,” Muntean said. “I’m not disappointed with it; going over 2,000 any night is great. But Opening Night I want it sold out.

“The day after this year ends, that is going to be my goal for next year. One, selling out Opening Night, and two, selling a helluva lot more groups.”

The thing is, as Muntean said, the Silver Knights this season has to get through this “horrid” part of the schedule. It’s not great for baseball, either, as even manager B.J. Neverett has groused about it. His team just got done with back-to-back trips to Brockton.

What would certainly help is an even number of FCBL teams. The league needs it; that way, it can use Mondays as a universal day off as was done in the past and teams won’t be saddled with what is traditionally the worst drawing night of the week. The Knights have one more left for June a week from today. One was rained out. The other drew a predictable announced 645, but the last one, July 2, should be a draw as it’s Military Appreciaion Night with a pre-holiday postgame fireworks show.

But this past week. Ugh.

“Especially in early June, when school’s in,” Muntean said. “Mom and Dad aren’t thinking about going to the game on a Monday night. So we’ve been handcuffed with that, and I mean handcuffed.”

He also knows more can be done to get area schools to the Education Day Game. Brockton, which had a down year at the gate in 2017, drew an FCBL single game record 5,725 on their morning Education Day game last week.

Now, the Silver Knights had an announced crowd of over 2,000, but a few schools cancelled because of the light rain that fell. Muntean would love to see the seats filled that morning. Give him the off-season having been here a year and the guess is next June they will be.

“I didn’t even know who the schools were when I started,” he said. “I go read at schools, and I haven’t been able to do that. I was pleased with it, not jumping up and down. We’ll get there.”

So, after his first two weeks, is Muntean satisfied? Heck no.

“Not 100 percent,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to that first Thursday night and see what tweaks we need to make with that.

“The total experience is the thing I want to get a real handle on, so people leave here having had a good time. That’s the key.”

That’s why he’s got Monkey Boy coming back on July 17. Rick Muntean likes to move it, move it.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.tking@nashuatelegraph.com