Greetings Mill Rats fans! We are so excited to announce the hiring of our team’s General Manager, Mr. Brennan Mihalick. We also wanted to give you a chance to get to know Brennan a little better, so we sat down and picked his brain about baseball, Johnstown, and what our fans can look forward to with their new Johnstown Mill Rats franchise:
Brennan, congratulations on becoming the first General Manager of the Johnstown Mill Rats! What made you want to take this job on?
Thank you. This was a great opportunity that I would have been anxious to pursue anywhere, but seeing that it was in my hometown got me really excited. After I spoke with the ownership the first time, I knew they had a great vision that would play well in Johnstown. We have the chance to build something new and unique, and it will make a positive impact in the city where I was born. What’s not to love about that?
As a proud member of the Johnstown Community, what should baseball fans coming to visit know about Johnstown?
It’s no secret that Johnstown has a history rich in sports and steel, so I love that our community voted for the Mill Rats name to help us tie the two together. The men and women of the steel industry were the backbone of Johnstown for decades, and they helped build this country, quite literally. It’s important to remember where we came from and embrace the toughness of our blue collar roots. My late grandfather worked in the old Bethlem Steel mills here, so there’s a bit of mill rat running through my veins. I think it’s a great way to honor them, and their legacy will serve as a source of inspiration to our players.
One of my favorite pieces of local trivia is that Babe Ruth and the “Murderers’ Row” Yankees played an exhibition game at Point Stadium in 1927. Knowing that our Mill Rats will be playing over the same ground as The Babe and countless other legends is pretty cool.
Any local secrets people should go visit between games?
If you like the outdoors, the area has some really great trails through the woods and mountains. Going on an afternoon hike before a Mill Rats game could make for a great day of fun with the family. There are also a lot of excellent eateries around town, so you grab some good grub and a cold drink to pass the time. I always enjoy walking through downtown to grab lunch, and you always feel like an old friend when you walk through the doors of the city’s restaurants.
What have you done before you came on to the Mill Rats’ Staff?
I was born in Johnstown and spent almost my entire life in this area. Forgive the pun, but you could say I was “forged” in Johnstown. The majority of my working life was spent employed downtown.
Most notably, I spent a number of years at the Cambria County War Memorial, where I started out as a part time employee. I advanced through the ranks of management and was eventually overseeing 1st Summit Arena and sister site North Central Recreation Center in Ebensburg as the interim general manager in the spring of 2019. Some of the things I’m most proud of being involved with during my tenure are hosting the 2018 Penguins Alumni Classic, establishing our adult hockey league, and bringing Rayne’s Backyard BBQ to the arena.
I met so many great people, had a lot of fun and unique experiences, and was fortunate to have a mentor there that prepared me for the position I’m in today. I was also privileged to work hand in hand with the Johnstown Tomahawks, who set a very high bar for what a sports organization should bring to its community and fans. Many of my colleagues and our guests remain good friends, and I appreciate the time we spent together.
I left 1st Summit Arena in late 2019 to pursue a new venue management opportunity, which took me to northwest Minnesota. As soon as I saw the announcement of a Prospect League franchise coming to Johnstown, I knew I wanted to become a part of it. When I returned to town in September, it felt like I never left.
What should our new fans expect out of the Mill Rats this upcoming, inaugural season?
The Mill Rats will be more than just quality baseball. We’re bringing a full blown event experience to fans in the stands and making this a budget friendly option for families. We’ll have some fun promotions, in-game entertainment, and will strive to establish ourselves as a pillar in the Greater Johnstown community.