Sunday, March 28, 2010

Evans to manage 'Runners in 2010

In the game of musical chairs of Golden Baseball managers, someone stopped the music and everyone is grabbing a seat. After the recent announcements of several new skippers across the league, a familiar name has surfaced as the new Field Manager in St. George.

Darrell Evans is the new head honcho for the RoadRunners in 2010. After his abrupt departure as manager of the Victoria Seals, Evans will begin his sixth season in a GBL dugout wearing his fourth different uniform.

Evans managed the Long Beach Armada for three years, beginning with the GBL's inaugural season in 2005. After serving as hitting coach for the OC Flyers en route to the 2008 Championship, he landed in Victoria to help jump-start the new franchise. For whatever reason - mainly speculation that Evans was searching for another gig while still being paid by the Seals - he won't be back in the capital city of British Columbia, and will instead spend his summer in the comfy confines of southwest Utah.

It's a nice fit for Evans, who will have a chance to again start over and - more than likely - bring along Dan DiPace as has been the case in all three stops he has made in the GBL. Who knows, maybe even John Warden will come out of the woodwork to reunite with Darrell and Dan to reform the original Armada coaching staff from 2005. Can you say "getting the band back together"?

Below is a piece from The Spectrum newspaper in St. George about the new skipper. The Flyers open the season May 21 at Bruce Hurst Field against Evans and his RoadRunners.

ST. GEORGE - St. George Roadrunners majority owner Will Joyce is living his dream of owning a baseball team.

And he's entrusting an old friend to lead the Runners on the field.

The Roadrunners officially named former Major Leaguer and Golden Baseball League coaching mainstay Darrell Evans as their manager Friday.

Evans replaces Cory Snyder, who left the Roadrunners to coach the expansion Maui team.

"I told him, if I ever bought a team down the road, I'd like to have him as our manager because of our relationship," Joyce said.

A part-time scout for the San Diego Padres, Joyce used to send players to Evans, who was managing independent league baseball.

The friendship was clearly visible during the press conference. Evans, a member of the 1984 Detroit Tigers, cracked jokes at the expense of his friend - and longtime Indians fan.

"Will has told me he expects to win every game," Evans joked. "(The 1984 Detroit Tigers) had the best start of all time, but it's a little lofty for me."

Evans has seen the Golden Baseball League grow. Since it's the league's inception six years ago, Evans has been the dugout leader at various stops at Long Beach and Victoria, Canada.

He also added that the league has changed since it was created.

"The players know they have a chance to get another shot," Evans said. "It's a lot different from five or six years ago. They're finding you. We'll have to filter through that and get the right people here and get better.

"The league has gotten a lot better. I get to do what I really love doing and get to be a teacher and be around young people. They keep you young and keep you going."

Roadrunner general manager Rick Berry said bringing in someone with experience was crucial.

"He's been around a long time, and he has the connections," Berry said.

Aside from being apart of the 1984 Detroit Tigers team that won the World Series, Evans played 21 seasons in the big leagues.

He amassed 414 home runs, 1,354 RBI and 1,605 walks. Evans is also one of two players to hit 100 home runs for three different teams - the other being Reggie Jackson.

His managerial career in the Golden Baseball League started with the Armada, where he led them to the league's championship series in 2007.

He claimed a GBL championship in 2008 as a bench and hitting coach for the Orange County Flyers, and was the first manager and director of player personnel for the Victoria Seals.

But Evans' stint with the Seals ended with him getting fired earlier this month.

In an article printed in the Victoria Times Colonist on March 3, Victoria president and co-owner Darren Parker was quoted as saying, "evidence has come to light to suggest Evans chose to solicit employment as field manager with another team while still receiving a salary from the Seals for the 2010 season."

When asked about it, Evans balked.

"I'll give the Mark McGwire answer. That's in the past," Evans said. "I had a great time up there. We're in this situation now. We're looking forward to St. George."

Added Joyce: "He wound up getting his relationship terminated. He loved Canada. He loved the opportunity. But that's baseball. Managers are hired for one reason: to be fired. That's all part of the game. We're excited about having him here."

Dixie State coach Mike Littlewood was also in the running for the position.

"If things didn't work out with Darrell, I would have hired Mike Littlewood," Joyce said. "He was a high-character individual. I told him, if the job becomes available, then he'd be a guy I'd come back to."

Evans doesn't plan on wasting anytime getting involved with the local community.

"It's a great place to play baseball and it's a great atmosphere," Evans said. "(Community involvement) is so important in Independent ball.

"Believe or not. The players love being around the community. They like the community involvement."

Joyce said Evans will be greeting fans as they enter Bruce Hurst Field to build a better sense of community and support for the team. Evans will also help build the team's brand that will be advertised even during the periods when baseball isn't played.

Joyce looks to forge an alliance with Dixie State to have Evans promote the team in the off-season.

"The alliances we've struck in the organization will be key," Joyce said. "We want to do things differently. We want to be more involved in the community. ... He's a hands-on guy. He's a people person. He's a very sharp baseball mind. We're fortunate to have a guy like him."

Berry said by having greater community involvement, the team may have a chance to survive in St. George.

"We have a second life," he said. "It's good to have (Evans) committed to being part of the community because that's key."

Evans was visibly excited about the prospects of coaching a team in St. George.

Only time will tell if that excitement remains as the season moves forward.

"We're going to play the game right," Evans said. "That's the demand we have. We want these players to show you how good they are and move on, so we can keep replacing them with people.

"It doesn't really matter. The best teams play .600 baseball. Win 60 percent of the time, you're going to be in the (running for a) pennant every year.

"Nobody has been able to tear the uniform off me for the past 45 years and it's not going to start now. I can't wait to get going."

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