The interim tag has been removed from Allen Lawrence.
The Salem Red Sox plan to announce Friday that they’ve promoted Lawrence to the full-time general manager role — a position the North Cross graduate held on an interim basis when Ryan Shelton left the organization in April.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” said Lawrence, who was informed of the decision by ownership earlier this month. “I certainly worked hard to get the opportunity, but you never know. I was certainly never taking it for granted that I was just going to get the position just because I was the interim this year. I felt pretty good about it, but you just never know.”
Lawrence has been with the club on a continuous basis since 2002. He’s held positions as food and beverage director, director of stadium operations, vice president of sales, assistant GM and now GM.
“Allen embodies the full meaning and spirit of a community-oriented GM,” said Jeff White, a Boston Red Sox front office member and the managing director of the Salem Red Sox. “He has lived in the Roanoke Valley almost his entire life and has dedicated his professional career to the Salem franchise, working tirelessly to make the community better along the way.”
In his previous capacities, Lawrence had performed nearly every function required of him as GM. But there was one new responsibility this past season.
“Really just having that final word,” he said. “I wasn’t able to say, ‘This is what I think, but go ask Ryan.’ We always get other opinions, but me having the final word on those things was a big difference.
“And then overseeing the staff as a whole, being that guy that’s looked to answer questions. Luckily we have a great staff; we don’t have a whole lot of internal issues.”
Still, there were some learning experiences for Lawrence in 2019. A decision to request home games during the July 4 holiday — made jointly with Shelton — backfired as searing heat and the concurrent Salem Fair kept fans away from Haley Toyota Field for six games — nearly 10 percent of the home schedule.
That, as well as uncommon heat throughout the summer, contributed greatly to Salem posting its lowest overall attendance (171,866) and average attendance (2,565) in the history of the ballpark, which opened in August 1995.
“That July Fourth experiment was just that — it was an experiment,” Lawrence said. “Ryan and I always talked about it: 159 teams in the country kill for a game on July Fourth, and we’re the only ones that are trying to avoid it. Are we making a bad decision trying to avoid it, or is this something we can capitalize on?
“We found out this year that it’s probably an experiment we don’t want to be a part of again.”
Lawrence is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this week for league meetings. His priority this offseason will be to punch up the promotional schedule to add entertainment for fans and target specific groups.
He said he’s confident he can get the attendance numbers back up, and Boston agrees he’s the guy to do it.
“His personal qualities endear him to his staff, customers, sponsors and business partners,” White said. “On my most recent trip to Salem, people went out of their way to praise Allen, which was not surprising to me, because I hear that praise every time I speak to a member of the Roanoke Valley community.”