In 2012 we named what we thought was the Top 10 Independent Baseball Managers. We thought this year we would take a look at where they are now. Who moved up? Who moved down? And who retired?
#10 Steve Brook
Starting with our #10 we take a look at Steve Brook of the River City Rascals. Brook took over in River City in 2010 and immediately led the Rascals to its first Frontier League title. In 2011 he led the Rascals to the most wins in franchise history (68) and a return to the championship where they would fall. Since we profiled Brook before the 2012 season the Rascals fell to 4th place in the division. A third place finish in 2013 was followed by a division title in 2014. Brook led the team back to the championship series after winning 61 games. Brook returns in 2015 for his sixth season.
Paterson was named the #9 manager in independent baseball in 2012, but he might be rising even higher. He was just named the manager of the American Association Sioux Falls Canaries. Since 2012 Paterson has added a new league and title to his resume. After managing the White Sands Pupfish in 2012, Paterson moved up to the United League Baseball managing the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings where he won the league title in 2014. Paterson faces a huge task of rebuilding the Canaries after their worst season in franchise history, but he has shown he is capable of doing just that.
#8 Phil Warren
Warren has been at the helm of the Gateway Grizzlies for the past eight seasons. Immediately after we ranked Warren #8 he led the Grizzlies to a Frontier League West Division crown. They would lose in the first round of the playoffs, but the 57 wins were the second best in franchise history. The winning has continued in 2013 and 2014 with a second and third place finish in the West Division. Both seasons the team won 50 or more games.
#7 Eddie Dennis
Dennis was the manager of the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in 2012, his last season as a manager. He led the WhiteWings to a 51-44 record and a third place finish in the North American League. After being out of baseball in 2013, Dennis became the hitting coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York Penn League. The Crosscutters are the Class A short season team of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Echebarren retired after the 2012 season after leading the York Revolution to the playoffs for the third straight season. The former MLB’er changed the culture to a winning one in York taking a last place team to two straight titles in 2010 and 2011.
#5 Doug Simunic
Simunic has won over 1,000 games in independent baseball, mostly with the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the American Association. In 21 years at the helm, he has had only two losing seasons but both have come in the past four seasons including 2014. Last summer the two-year extension on his contract was exercised keeping him in Fargo through 2017. Simunic has been the only manager that the Redhawks have known winning thirteen division and five league titles over that time.
#4 Patrick Scalabrini
Scalabrini entered the 2012 season after winning titles in his first two seasons in Quebec. He has since guided the Capitales to two more titles winning four in a row (in his first four seasons) in the Can-Am League. The team fell off a bit in 2014 finishing with its first losing season under Scalabrini and failing to make the playoffs. He will look to right the ship and return the Capiales to their winning tradition.
#3 Sparky Lyle
Entering the 2012 season Lyle led the Somerset Patriots to a winning record in 12 of his 14 years. Unfortunately year number fifteen, which would be his last, finished with a losing record as well. Overall Lyle finished his managing career (all with Somerset) with a record of 1024-913 for a .529 winning percentage. Lyle led the franchise to eight division and five league titles.
#2 Doc Edwards
Edwards has been in professional baseball nearly 60 years. He has managed at the Major League level, in the affiliated minor leagues, and for the past nine years with the San Angelo Colts. The Colts have suffered in recent years finishing under .500 the past two seasons. It remains to be seen if Edwards will manage in 2015. Not because he isn’t wanting to, but the entire San Angelo Colts and ULB are in jeopardy of being extinct next season. The Colts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last season in hopes of saving the stadium.
#1 Ricky VanAsselberg
Vanasselberg has been winning wherever he has wound up. Prior to 2012 he won the American Association championship with Grand Prairie in 2011 and another AA championship in 2010 with the Shreveport-Bossier Captains. These weren’t his only wins though. In 2006 and 2007 he won back-to-back United League championships with the Alexandria Aces.
Since 2011 Vanasselberg has qualified for the playoffs only once with the Air Hogs losing in the first round in 2013. However, in December he was named as the new manager for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. Definitely a jump up in competition but it will put Vanasselberg in his most challenging position, rebuilding. The Bluefish have finished with three straight losing seasons including a 47-93 season a year ago.
So in review, two managers have retired, one might be on his way out if his team folds, two moved up in the ranks of independent baseball, one moved to an affiliated team as a hitting coach, and four are still at it with the same teams.
You can go back and view our Top 10 from 2012 here:
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.