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Aylward retires after 42 years in baseball

Business operations executive spent last 20 seasons with Mariners
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- After 42 years in Major League Baseball, including the last 20 with the Mariners, executive vice president of business operations Bob Aylward announced on Monday that he's retiring.

Aylward, 64, has overseen the communications and broadcasting departments of the Mariners, as well as the club's revenue producing efforts, including corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and advertising for the past two decades.

SEATTLE -- After 42 years in Major League Baseball, including the last 20 with the Mariners, executive vice president of business operations Bob Aylward announced on Monday that he's retiring.

Aylward, 64, has overseen the communications and broadcasting departments of the Mariners, as well as the club's revenue producing efforts, including corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and advertising for the past two decades.

Aylward previously worked for the Orioles and Rays after earning his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt and attending Ohio University's graduate program for sports administration, getting his start selling season tickets in Baltimore in 1976 and moving his way up the ladder to leadership positions with three different MLB clubs.

"I have had a tremendous opportunity to combine a career with the game I love," Aylward said. "There's been an incredible array of people I've come in contact with from fellow employees to the seven or eight owners, who are always interesting individuals in their own right.

"Then you get into the business community and media members, it doesn't get any better than that. This industry just brings the most interesting set of characters that one could hope to encounter."

Aylward joined the Mariners in 1997, and one of his first challenges was helping oversee the move from the Kingdome to Safeco Field in '99. He brought experience in that regard from the Orioles, where he was instrumental in that team's move to Camden Yards in 1992 as their vice president of business affairs.

"We created two facilities where fans can really come and truly enjoy baseball at its finest," he said. "I'm just so proud of being able to say I was part of helping that happen."

Aylward says he'll now enjoy sitting in the stands at Safeco without having to worry about work, though he'll remain on with the Mariners as a special consultant to chief executive officer John Stanton and team president Kevin Mather through July. In addition, he will continue as board chair of Root Sports Northwest, the regional sports network.

"It's time to get out of the daily grind," he said. "This is a wonderful job, but it is a consuming job. It's time to slow down and give myself a chance to enjoy what I've worked 42 years to put myself in position to enjoy."

Aylward was active on many MLB committees, including the Ticketing Review Committee, Scheduling Committee and MLB Properties Board.

"During a long and accomplished career in the National Pastime, Bob Aylward has been valuable to not only the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, but also to Major League Baseball," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Through his work on league-wide initiatives and committees, Bob used his knowledge and experience to benefit our game. It is an honor to congratulate Bob on a job well done and to wish him and his family the very best in his retirement."

During his time in Seattle, Aylward served on several civic boards including the non-profit organization Washington Global Health Alliance, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Seattle Sports Commission.

"We are a dramatically better organization because of his leadership," Stanton said. "Bob brought with him a wealth of experience from the Baltimore Orioles that benefited the Mariners enormously, including his experience in the development of Camden Yards, which guided our launch of Safeco Field. His fingerprints are on many other innovations in the world of sports sales, marketing, sponsorships, promotions, broadcasting and advertising."

Aylward, who became a baseball fan growing up in rural Mississippi, has one parting wish for the Mariners: He hopes they can soon enjoy something he celebrated in 1983 when the Orioles won a World Series while he was working in their front office.

"I was all of 30 at the time and thought, 'Oh man, this comes easy. I like going to the World Series,'" he said. "I really want to see the fans of Seattle have a chance to experience that."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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