San Diego Business Journal Carbite Golf's Shira Steps Down as the
Company's Chairman

Before one of the Padres' recent games against the Seattle Mariners, the Friars introduced a new team of players to join the ballclub.

The Padres Scholars Class of 2001 was introduced June 16 before a sellout crowd. Thirty-one area middle school students make up the seventh class to receive college scholarships funded by Padres players and owners.

Each year, the Padres award $125,000 as individual $5,000 scholarships to 25 academically talented, financially disadvantaged San Diego middle school students.

"We are proud of this program, to say the least," said Charles Steinberg, the Padres executive vice president of public affairs. "When every player on the Padres voluntarily writes checks to enable bright San Diego children to go to college, the impact is extraordinary.

"It means the money from the fans who buy tickets comes right back into the community for the best of causes."

Since 1998, Qualcomm Inc. has added five additional scholarships.

This year, one more scholarship was added by the Baseball Writers' Association of America and the Union-Tribune Publishing Co. in memory of Hall of Fame baseball writer Phil Collier, who died in February.

The program heads south of the border this year with five more scholarships funded in Baja California. Those winners will be introduced later in the season.

To date, the Padres have spent more than $1 million through the scholarship program.

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Moving On:

In 1988, Chet Shira founded Carbite Golf, a local golf manufacturer of equipment that includes putters, woods, irons, bags and gloves.

Two weeks ago, Shira, 72, stepped down as the company's chairman. But it's not a complete retirement for him. He will continue to head the company's research and development efforts.

"I am stepping down with confidence that our board and management team have the right strategy to focus on development of the best putters and wedges in the business," Shira said. "I can now concentrate on my first love , developing new technology to help golfers improve their game."

Shira will be replaced by Ballard Smith, a director of the company since June 2000, and president of the Padres from 1979 to 1987.

Across The Pond:

Richard McWilliam, founder and chairman of Carlsbad-based The Upper Deck Co., is known for signing the most popular players and teams in football, baseball, basketball and hockey for trading and memorabilia products. The company inked a deal with golf's most popular player, Tiger Woods, last month.

McWilliam didn't stop there.

The company recently signed an exclusive product agreement with England's Manchester United soccer team , winners of seven of the last nine Premier League championships.

"Manchester United is one of those special professional sports organizations that transcend their sport," McWilliam said. "Like the New York Yankees in baseball and the Dallas Cowboys in football, Manchester United has a loyal fan following not only in their own country, but around the world."

Upper Deck plans to launch its Manchester United initiative in October with a limited release "World Premiere" trading card set. The company is also planning to include rare autograph and match-worn shirt case cards of the team's most popular players.

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Eye On The Cup:

Each year, all A League soccer clubs get to exhibit their skills against a team from Major League Soccer in hopes of winning the annual Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. It's been that way since the MLS was founded five years ago.

This year, the A League's San Diego Flash will take on the Chicago Fire, of the MLS, in Milwaukee in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup.

Given the news that the Flash has gone through some major changes this year, including losing an owner and several players, the game could have been a financial strain.

Conveniently enough, the A League, which is footing the bill for the Flash's season, won't have to dish out extra cash for the team to make an additional trip to Milwaukee. The Flash will already be there, with scheduled games in the area the weekend before their Open Cup match.

The Flash plays Chicago at 4 p.m. on June 27.

The deadline for the next Sports Biz column is Monday, July 2. Send related items to dward@sdbj.com.