Mill Rats add former Pirates catcher McKenry to ownership group

Mar. 8—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The Johnstown Mill Rats have spent the past five months fortifying their local ownership group.

Now, the Prospect League amateur baseball franchise will add "The Fort" into the mix.

Former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Michael McKenry, currently a member of the Pirates broadcast team, announced his role in the Mill Rats ownership group through a video posted on the team's Twitter/X social media page on Friday morning.

"I'm Michael McKenry, former Pittsburgh Pirate and now MLB analyst, with my wife Jaclyn," McKenry said, flanked by the rest of the ownership team near home plate at Sargent's Stadium at the Point. "We are so excited to be a part of this community, a part of the Mill Rats and with my new team. Go Mill Rats."

Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown provided voiceover on the video, which included clips of McKenry's major league career as well as vintage footage of Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees' exhibition game against the Johnstown Johnnies in 1927 at Point Stadium.

"This is definitely very exciting on our part," said Alex Pozun, one of the local owners of the Mill Rats. "Michael is very involved in the Game Changer Sports Ministry, and he has been coming to town the last couple years to speak during our Faith Night at the ballpark."

Pozun said those appearances by McKenry, whose nickname is "The Fort," helped the team establish a bond with the former catcher. The insight McKenry gained through years of playing in the majors and minor leagues, as well as his time as a broadcaster, will benefit the Mill Rats organization.

"From a baseball standpoint, he is going to be a tremendous help in developing players, bringing great talent to town," Pozun said. "He'll also help from the standpoint of, 'What's the best bat company to use? The best equipment?' He brings a tremendous amount of experience. This is going to be great for the Mill Rats, but also for Johnstown in general."

McKenry played in the major leagues with the Pirates, the Colorado Rockies and the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent three of his seven seasons playing in Pittsburgh (2011-13).

McKenry first joined the Pittsburgh Pirates broadcast team in 2018 as a studio analyst for Pirates games on SportsNet Pittsburgh.

He has previous ties to Johnstown as a player on the Washington, D.C., Bethesda Big Train franchise that played in the 2004 AAABA Tournament.

"As we're trying to grow this organization, to have someone who has played in so many different areas and at different levels of baseball — and to have his wife, Jaclyn, who has been in the stands observing all levels of baseball — their perspective is fantastic for the organization," Mill Rats General Manager Sarah Rex said.

The local ownership group took over the team in November, ending months of uncertainty about the Mill Rats' future under former owner Bill Davidson, who helped bring the franchise to the city in 2021.

Local ownership includes Ryan Gindlesperger and Christie Cardellino; Alex and Melissa Pozun; Matthew and Bristy Perry; Chad and Jill Gontkovic; and Bart and Stacy Vickroy.