(Published 10:13 a.m., updated 4:12 p.m.)
Kevin McClatchy will step down as the Pirates' chief executive officer after the current baseball season, the team announced today, and the search for his replacement will begin immediately.
Mr. McClatchy, 44, was the front man of the group that bought the Pirates in 1996 and remained the principal owner until January of this year, when chairman of the board Bob Nutting supplanted him. After that, Mr. McClatchy's lone title was that of CEO.
He also has served on several boards for Major League Baseball, including its executive council, international committee and labor committee.
Mr. McClatchy and Mr. Nutting made the announcement to team employees this morning at PNC Park.
"A decision of this personal and professional magnitude is not the type you make overnight," Mr. McClatchy said. "It was something Bob and I had discussed even before the change of control took place in January and something I decided upon a few months ago. It was a difficult decision but, in the end, I felt the time was right to step down as the day-to-day leader, so the organization can move forward with a fresh perspective."
"I respect Kevin's decision, and I'm pleased he will continue to actively lead the franchise until the end of the season," Mr. Nutting said. "Announcing this decision now as opposed to the end of the season will allow for enough time to conduct a thorough search. It will give us an opportunity for a smooth transition into a new chapter in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Mr. Nutting said it was too early to discuss potential candidates for the job.
"Finding the new leader of the organization is the most important decision I will make in my first year as the principal owner of the franchise," he said. "Finding the right person for the position is far more critical to me than how quickly we find a successor."
Mr. McClatchy told the Post-Gazette in an interview this afternoon that the job has taken a toll on him.
"John Madden once said you can take 10 years in the frying pan," Mr. McClatchy said, referring to the noted football commentator. "And then, you start to get burned out a little bit. That means being in front of the media and all of that. And, you know, anytime somebody is the CEO of any company for that long, in all honesty, it's a natural time for a change."
"From my standpoint, we've done pretty well with some things and fallen short in other areas," Mr. McClatchy said. "There's no question that winning and losing is something I've taken to heart, probably even more than people realize. If you look at a picture of me now and another from six years ago, I look like a different person. That stuff's worn on me a little bit."
Mr. Nutting praised Mr. McClatchy for his contributions to the Pirates, in particular his work in keeping them in Pittsburgh by pushing to have PNC Park built.
"It is important that we all recognize and respect the positive impact that Kevin has had on the ball club and the city of Pittsburgh," Mr. Nutting said. "Simply put, without his leadership, the Pirates would not be playing in Pittsburgh."
"I have worked hard for more than 11 years in the best interest of the Pittsburgh Pirates, our fans and the community and will continue to do so," said Mr. McClatchy. "I have confidence in this team. We have played better recently and remain focused on having a strong second half."
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.