Indy Spotlight – The Managers

With the start of independent minor league baseball right around the corner – the Atlantic League opens in ten days, on April 25 – the time seemed right to finally bust out that Indy Spotlight for which regular readers of this site have surely been clamoring.  That was clamoring I heard, was it not?

For this week’s inaugaral segment, I decided to look at something that has always been of interest to me: big name managers of independent minor league teams.  There have always been a surprising number of managers with significant professional playing experience and name recognition kicking around in independent ball, especially when we take into account that the level of play is often considered to be a very short leap above the semipro ranks (an unfair characterization, but one that pervades the psyche of the casual fan).

In all actuality, the fact that most of the players aren’t big names explains why many of the managers are.  Minor league baseball is a transitory product at any level; I could go to a game tonight and another one next month, featuring the same teams, and see a number of different players.  Because of that, teams have to sell other things.  Promotions and mascots are two of the big ones, but managers can also be a drawing card, especially if they have some sort of local connection.  I worked for the Nashua Pride for two seasons when Butch Hobson was the manager, and I can’t tell you how many times we put out press releases featuring the words, “Red Sox legend Butch Hobson.”  We were located less than an hour from Boston, where Hobson had starred in the late 1970s, so we played up that connection like nobody’s business.

Some of the more interesting current independent managers are listed below, but I first wanted to throw out a plea: if anyone knows what Bert Pena is doing these days, can you please contact us at busleagues@gmail.com or onemoredyingquail@gmail.com?  Pena was, quite simply, one of the nicest guys I ran across during my time in baseball, which is ironic because, as manager of the Atlantic League’s traveling Road Warriors, he probably had the toughest job of anyone I met.  Without knowing all the details, I’d say it’s sad the way Pena was treated by the Atlantic League – he skippered the Road Warriors for several seasons, always with young players and virtually no hope for being competitive, yet the best they could do when the Lancaster Barnstormers entered the league in 2005 was give him a job as the team’s hitting coach.  More than just about anyone, Pena deserves the opportunity to run a decent team.  If he has received that at some point recently, drop me a line.

Now, on to the fun stuff…

American Association
Grand Prairie AirHogs – Pete Incaviglia
Lincoln Saltdogs – Tim Johnson
Shreveport Sports – Terry Bevington

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
The Atlantic League has always featured the best players and managers of any independent league, and this season is no different.  Every manager played in the majors – even Ferguson and Krenchicki, probably the two least recognizable names, stuck around for a combined 22 seasons. 

I’m not gonna lie: seeing Von Hayes’ name made me chuckle out loud.  I have no idea why, except maybe because I own about 700 copies of his 1988 Topps baseball card.

As I remember it, Krenchicki was pretty decent (he managed the Riversharks when I worked for Nashua), Lyle could be ornery but never a total dick (at least not to me), and Hobson was phenomenal.  The Blue Crabs are lucky to have him, because he will do just about anything to help promote the team.  It actually got to the point in 2004 that I felt bad about calling him for interviews because he so rarely said no.

Bridgeport Bluefish – Tommy John
Camden Riversharks – Joe Ferguson
Lancaster Barnstormers – Von Hayes
Long Island Ducks – Dave LaPoint
Newark Bears – Wayne Krenchicki
Somerset Patriots – Sparky Lyle
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs – Butch Hobson
York Revolution – Chris Hoiles

Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball
Gedman’s name makes me think of an interesting tidbit.  My old boss in Nashua, Todd Marlin, originally went to Worcester before ending up back in the Atlantic League with the Bridgeport Bluefish.  Those are his only three minor league jobs and he’s worked with Butch Hobson, Rich Gedman, and Tommy John as his managers. 

Atlantic City Surf – Cecil Fielder
Nashua Pride – Rick Miller
Sussex Skyhawks – Hal Lanier
Worcester Tornadoes – Rich Gedman

Continental Baseball League
McKinney Blue Thunder – Curtis Wilkerson
Texarkana Gunslingers – Steve Trout

Golden Baseball League
This just doesn’t seem true: Gary Carter as the manager of an independent baseball team?   Wikipedia confirms, however, so I’m staying with it.  Leonard and Snyder are just cool, late 1980s-era icing on the cake.

Orange County Flyers – Gary Carter
Reno Silver Sox – Jeffrey Leonard
St. George Roadrunners – Cory Snyder

Northern League
Joliet JackHammers – Wally Backman

United League Baseball
There was a 1988 Topps baseball card for Doc Edwards in which he looks at first glance to be about 80 years old.  I know now that he was about fifty, making him seventy today, but it was still surprising to see his name listed.

San Angelo Colts – Doc Edwards

Next week: Big name players who are slumming it in the Indies this season.

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16 responses to this post.

  1. Me, I’m intrigued by the Cecil Fielder revelation, as well.

    Nice article, looking forward to more!

    Reply

  2. Dear Lord, that reads like the current roster list of the Baseball Mogul season I’m curently in (early-mid 80’s).

    Looking forward to the player listing.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Steve on April 15, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Who started this page? I used to work for the Nashua Pride as well.

    Reply

  4. Posted by jared on April 15, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Also used to work for the pride, 3 seasons from 05-07

    Reply

  5. Jared, I just missed your time in Nashua – I was there in 2003 as an intern and 2004 as the Media Relations Manager.

    Is that Steve Cox in the comment before that? This is Brian Moynahan – I interned with Eric Slack in Media Relations.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Steve on April 15, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Yeah B.Moynahan, how are you……..I saw the random statements of working with Marlin and all that i figured it was some one i knew……my buddy pointed out this page to me, this is pretty sweet….

    Reply

  7. Posted by Micah on April 16, 2008 at 6:11 am

    isn’t tom browning coaching with reds rookie ball out in montana?

    Reply

  8. Posted by jared on April 16, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Hah marlin hired me, i worked through the Turbe/Moran era….survived somehow

    Reply

  9. Micah, this post was about managers in independent leagues only, but you raise an interesting point: it would be fun to go through some of the affiliated teams and see who is managing there.

    Jared, I worked with Anna for a season, but I don’t know who “Moran” is. Either way, it’s good to see that the team appears to be moving in the right direction.

    Reply

  10. That banner? Is awesome.

    Reply

  11. Thanks – those are the Elizabethtown Twins, getting on their bus to head back from Danville, VA. I loved the guys sitting in the luggage bay and the pitcher with the ice pack – the whole thing said “Bus Leagues” to me when I took the photo.

    Reply

  12. Posted by jared on April 17, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Ah, i was refering to Chris Moran, who i thought had been there longer than i suppose he was… I suppose they are moving in the right direction…this will undoubtedly be the final season though…Stabile has been trying to bail since last year, and i believe is simply trying to save face…It appears to be well run on the outside but its slightly more Chaotic than when BKK was running the show

    Reply

  13. You know, E, now that I take a good look at our banner…it looks like a couple of those guys are giving you the “Hey, why are you taking my picture, fool?!” look.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Bruce on April 21, 2008 at 3:31 am

    I wonder if Leonard teaches the “one flap down” technique…

    Reply

  15. Here is the information to complete the 2008 Continental Baseball League managers list:

    Bay Area Toros – Jim Bolt (eventual 2008 CBL Champions)
    Corpus Christi Beach Dawgs – Hector Salinas (later on the job went to Trey Salinas)
    McKinney Blue Thunder – Curtis Wilkerson
    Texarkana Gunslingers – 1st part of the season was Steve Trout, 2nd part of the season was managed by Chris McKnight

    Hope this helps for those of you keeping track!

    Reply

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