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New Timberjacks GM gears for season

GREG STILES

Dan Kilgras is something of a chef, mixing a variety of ingredients hoping that the patrons will rave over his main dish and come again.

Kilgras is the 27-year-old general manager of the Southern Oregon Timberjacks.

As the rain pitter-patters on the roof of his office on the southwestern edge of Miles Field, Kilgras mixes promotions, ticket packages and ballpark ambience that he hopes will cause fans to return time and again.

I'm trying to figure out which programs to continue and what new ones I want to implement, Kilgras says. One of our mottos this year is going to be `Let's have a party.'

From the second they arrive until they leave, we want people to experience a professional-quality experience.

Southern Oregon attendance grew to more than 80,000 in 1994 and 1995 before slipping back into the 70,000s the past two years.

Partly to blame are poor weather; rumors of a pending move to Vancouver, Wash., last year; and a poor performance on the field the year before.

Kilgras intends to woo the fans back, including those who buy tickets before the season and then stick them in a drawer somewhere and forget about them.

We remind people they have a couple of box seats and want to come out and enjoy the game, Kilgras says.

Kilgras replaces Suzanne Daniel, who left baseball for radio advertising after the 1997 season. Kilgras grew up in Forest Grove, earned a business degree at Whittier College before joining the organization in November of 1993. He was promoted to assistant general manager last year.

Among his challenges is lining up a new radio outlet.

The Northwest League club has been on KYJC and its successor KRTA (610 AM) since the 1983 season. However, both KRTA's management and the Timberjacks thought it best to part ways because minor league baseball doesn't fit the station's Spanish-language programing.

That didn't work the way we planned, Kilgras says.

With San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics broadcasts tying up the airways, finding a radio home for the Timberjacks is not the easiest of chores. KMED, which broadcast the club's games when it arrived from Bend in 1979, has said No thanks.

When the Timberjacks get plugged in, they'll have a seasoned play-by-play man behind the mike that Kilgras has hired. Bob Hamilton has broadcast University of Nevada-Las Vegas games and was part of Pete Rose's radio show staff.

Kilgras says a new visitor's clubhouse (behind the third-base bleachers) is expected to go up following the 1998 season.

After seeing two clubs bolt for greener pastures and a spate of affiliation changes in the mid-1990s, the Northwest League will look in 1998 the same as it did last year. And as for the Timberjacks' long-term status?

Kilgras will take it one season at a time.