Pirates to make it official today: Coonelly is club's new president

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The Pirates will announce Frank Coonelly as their new president today.

The official appointment of Coonelly (pronounced COON-lee) follows a few days of strong speculation that he would succeed Kevin McClatchy, who holds the title of chief executive officer.

Coonelly, 47, has worked in Major League Baseball's New York offices since 1998. Major League Baseball's chief labor counsel, Coonelly has helped major-league teams with salary arbitration cases and designed the "slotting" process which recommends the amounts of signing bonuses clubs pay to amateur draft picks.

"I can't say enough nice things about Frank Coonelly," said Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the board of the Chicago White Sox. "He's a very bright, decent guy who has tremendous respect among general managers in baseball. I don't know anybody who doesn't like him."

Jay Reisinger, an agent certified by the players union who works in Pittsburgh, is among those who respect Coonelly.

"This is a tremendous hire for the Pirates," Reisinger said. "He's an extremely bright and driven person. He takes great pride in winning. He works very, very hard and cares a great deal about his work.

"I can honestly say Frank and I have never agreed on one single thing, but I know he'll be a tremendous help to the Pirates. I have the utmost respect for him. I think he'll be a tremendous asset."

Before joining Major League Baseball, Coonelly worked in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Morgan Lewis. That firm did a lot of work for MLB during the players strike of 1994-95.

"I've known Frank for -- gracious -- 15 years," Reinsdorf said. "Since he was a young lawyer at Morgan Lewis, I've watched him grow. This will be a major change for him, but he's been able to learn the bad things about how organizations are run and to see which organizations do things right.

"He'll have no problem. He has a great sense of humor. He's the kind of guy you'll love being around."

Coonelly's first significant task after the announcement today will be the hiring of a general manager to succeed Dave Littlefield, who was fired Friday.

He could begin that interview process within the next couple of days.


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