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ANGEL REPORT

Uhlich Signs 3-Year Contract

September 10, 2003|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND — As the Angels prepare to celebrate drawing 3 million fans for the first time in franchise history, owner Arte Moreno has signed Kevin Uhlich, the team's senior vice president of business operations, to a three-year contract.

Major league teams report attendance based on tickets sold, and the Angels already have sold 3,025,000 tickets this season, Uhlich said. On Sept. 28, the final day of the season, the Angels will distribute free commemorative T-shirts to all fans in attendance and will offer three randomly selected fans the chance to win $1 million each.

Uhlich, who confirmed the contract signing, said he looked forward to the challenge of turning the defending World Series champions from a one-year attendance wonder to a perennial top draw. He said the Angels hope to add a second story to the crowded stadium store and include a team museum within the expanded space. Moreno has pledged to be active in free agency this winter, which could help stem the attendance decline that almost inevitably follows a poor season.

"As tough a year as it's been on the field, there's still a buzz about it," Uhlich said. "I really have a good feeling it's going to carry over."

General Manager Bill Stoneman runs the Angels' baseball operations and Uhlich runs everything else. Since assuming control of the team in May, Moreno has signed Stoneman and Uhlich to long-term contracts.

The three-year contract assures Uhlich, 45, of celebrating his 30th anniversary with the Angels. The Anaheim native joined the team as a batboy in 1976.

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Although the Angels could move center fielder Darin Erstad to first base or shortstop David Eckstein to second base next season, Manager Mike Scioscia said neither player would move this season. Eckstein was activated Tuesday and is expected to start today. Erstad continues to receive treatment for a nagging hamstring injury, and Scioscia is increasingly pessimistic about his chances of returning this year.... Reliever Francisco Rodriguez has held opponents to a .170 batting average, best in the American League.... The Angels' rookie-level team in Provo, Utah, opens the best-of-three Pioneer League championship series tonight against Billings (Mont.), a Cincinnati Reds' affiliate. Shortstop Brandon Wood, the Angels' top pick in the June draft, hit a grand slam in the first round of the league playoffs.

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