Photo | Courtesy of The Mobile Bay Bears

After the 2019 season, the Mobile BayBears will move north to become the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

The Mobile BayBears will start their final season in the Port City with a new general manager.

The team’s owner — Ballcorps, LLC — announced in a statement the hiring of Ken Clary to the position. Clary comes to the BayBears with experience in the minor leagues at both the triple-A and single-A levels. He will start Oct. 22.

“We are excited to have Ken as our general manager for the BayBears. His baseball knowledge, energy, sales skills, promotional background and operational experience will be a tremendous asset to the organization,” Ballcorps President Roger Wexelberg said in the statement. “Ken will have the benefit of overseeing an experienced staff for the team’s final season in Mobile.”

Clary’s most recent position was as a senior vice president for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League. From 2005-08 he served as general manager of the Columbus Catfish, the single-A affiliate of the Dodgers, followed by the Rays. He also spent 13 years at the triple-A level with both the Richmond Braves and Nashville Sounds.

“I’m thrilled to be back in baseball and I would like to thank Ralph Nelson, BallCorps owner, and Roger Wexelberg for this tremendous opportunity,” Clary said in the statement. “I am looking forward to working with the current BayBears staff in celebrating the 22-year history of BayBears baseball and making the final season a memorable and rewarding experience for our fans and the city of Mobile.”

Clary replaces Chris Morgan, who announced last week he was leaving the baseball team’s front office to pursue “other opportunities.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my four years as general manager of the BayBears and want to thank Mike Savit and HWS Baseball for providing me with the opportunity to oversee the organization back in 2014,” he said in a statement. “I also want to thank our fans, sponsors, media partners and city officials for their support. Most importantly, much appreciation goes to the members of our front office staff who have always put forth tremendous effort and maintained a positive mindset each and every day, despite unique and occasionally difficult circumstances.”

Morgan was honored earlier this year with the Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year Award, according to a statement from the Southern League.

“Chris has always been a team player, ready to lend a hand wherever needed, and a very hard-working general manager for the BayBears,” Southern League President Lori Webb said in a statement in September. “This year, he assisted the league by assuming the chairmanship of our marketing committee. I am so pleased he received this honor by a vote of his peers, and I wish him every success for the remainder of his tenure with the BayBears.”

The statement from the Southern League congratulates Morgan on his ability to secure roughly $1 million in improvements to Hank Aaron Stadium and on his efforts to change the “perception of the organization” through new customer service standards.

However, the BayBears have struggled with attendance in recent years. Mobile was last among teams in the Southern League for average attendance in the 2018 season, with 1,121 fans per game. They attracted just north of 69,500 fans over the entire 62-game home schedule, according to the Southern League’s website.

The next lowest, the Jackson (Tennessee) Generals, averaged 1,654 fans per game. The highest attendance number belongs to the Birmingham Barons, who attracted more than 5,500 fans to each home game. Teams in Pensacola and Biloxi fell closer to the middle of the pack in terms of 2018 attendance, attracting 4,308 fans and 2,400 fans to each home game, respectively.

The BayBears will leave Mobile following the 2019 season to become the Rocket City Trash Pandas in Madison.