Managing the Altoona Curve is a special honor for Michael Ryan, who enters his second season at the helm of the Pirates’ Double-A squad in 2018.
A native of Indiana, Pa., just a short drive west of Peoples Natural Gas Field, Ryan takes pride in his position.
“I’m honored to be here,” Ryan said. “I’m excited to do so again, especially being from close to the area. The community here, our front office, the organization feels like home. It’s so comfortable for me. I’m the luckiest man in minor league baseball, in my opinion.”
Back in the fall, Ryan was voted as the Fans’ Choice All-Time Curve Team Manager, a contest held to commemorate the top players and manager in celebration of the Curve’s 20th season. Each of the honorees will have a bobblehead giveaway at the ballpark, including Ryan’s coming up on Saturday, April 7, presented by First Commonwealth Bank.
“It’s an advantage of being from around these parts,” Ryan said. “I have some family members who probably threw some votes in there. You look at the managers who have been here in the past, it’s humbling to have the bobblehead.”
Even though being from the area may have helped some in Ryan’s selection, his managing credentials with Altoona certainly validate the honor. Last season, he led the Curve to just their third regular-season division title in team history. In the playoffs, the Curve put together one of the most dominating performances in league history on their way to the franchise’s second championship.
“The day after we won the championship, it was exciting to go home to enjoy that with the family,” Ryan said. “And to come back here (to Altoona) in the offseason, just to see how important it was to the community and to this great organization, it’s been exciting.”
Now that the champagne has dried and the calendar has flipped to a new year, Ryan and his team are focused on trying to bring another title to Altoona in 2018.
“That was last year,” Ryan said. “We’ve flipped the page. We’re ready to get this season going and hopefully we can do it again.”
While sometimes the objectives in the minors are more focused on developing players, Ryan has grown a reputation for holding a strong passion to win.
“Expectations for me are always going to be the same, they won’t change,” Ryan said. “A championship is the expectation. That’s not going to change. It doesn’t matter if we have a good club or if we have a club that needs to improve, that’s going to be the expectation.
“That’s just the way I’m wired. That’s just the way I am.”