From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Working long hours has been Jason Smorol’s trademark since he was an intern for the Watertown Indians in the Class A New York-Penn League for three seasons in the mid-1990s.
Smorol worked his way up in the organization, and later became general manager of Batavia and Auburn in the league.
The Liverpool native is now in his first season as GM of the Syracuse Chiefs of the Triple-A International League.
It has been bittersweet for Smorol in 2014. The Chiefs have the best record (57-39) in the 14-team IL, and enjoy a four-game lead over Rochester in the North Division. However, the team is also last in average paid attendance at 3,465 fans in 43 openings.
With summer now in full session, Smorol hopes attendance picks up at NBT Stadium.
“We have been trying to slowing re-gain the audience in Syracuse,” he said. “It has to help that we have a great club with overall terrific team chemistry from the players to the coaches to all the way down to the clubbies.”
Thanks to a recent fireworks night crowd of 12,045, attendance spiked. The average was hovering around 3,000 in late June. Before Smorol’s arrival, Chiefs’ attendance has dipped in each of the past three seasons.
Attendance rose for Batavia and Auburn when Smorol was in charge. He’s hoping for a similar turnaround with the Chiefs.
“It’s going to take time,” Smorol said about the Chiefs’ goal to raise attendance. “Everybody in the office works hard to spread the good word.
“Washington for the most part has been healthy this season and our roster has been pretty much left intact so that helps our cause of playing competitive baseball,” Smorol added.
■ Trivia question: Since 2000, what NFL team has the worst record in the final week of the regular season?
■ Reader Robert Kirk of Watertown passed this interesting note about former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial’s season in 1953:
The Hall of Famer compiled 200 hits, 53 doubles, 30 home runs, 113 RBIs and hit .337 while striking out only 32 times in 698 plate appearances. Despite those gaudy numbers, Musial finished eighth in the MVP voting. Brooklyn catcher Roy Campanella won the award that year, hitting .312 with 41 HRs and an NL-best 142 RBIs.
■ Trivia answer: Dallas Cowboys (2-12).
Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in Major League Baseball: 1. Athletics; 2. Tigers; 3. Angels; 4. Dodgers; 5. Brewers; 6. Giants; 7. Orioles; 8. Cardinals; 9. Nationals; 10. Braves.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org