Tommy Shields to Burlington
The architect of the 1997 championship season, the first in franchise history, was manager Tommy Shields (pictured with the late John Moss, courtesy of ’98 Shorebirds yearbook). He spent one year with the Shorebirds, but made a lasting impression.
Yesterday, the Burlington Royals (short-season, Royals) announced that Tommy Shields would take over as manager. Here is a quote I pulled from the Times News.
“It will be a challenge,” Shields said Monday. “Anytime you manage, it’s a challenge having your own guys and kind of directing a team. (At this level) you get kids under the lights for the first time.”
The ’97 team here on Delmarva was obviously ultra-talented. The 1-2 punch of Ryan Minor and Calvin Pickering blasted 49 combined home runs. For the sake of perspective, the 2011 Shorebirds hit 60 combined homers, only 11 more than Minor and Pickering.
On the mound, Americo Peguero won 11 games and Ryan Kohlmeier locked away 24 saves.
Don’t forget that Shields played in two games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1992. He also played in 20 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1993. His minor league career was solid – 8 seasons, .284 career hitter, 47 homers.
Before this current gig, he spent seven years in the Atlanta Braves organization. He has also managed in the St. Louis Cardinals system.
In case you’re wondering, he is now 47 years old.
I’m reading through the 1998 Shorebirds program and Mike James wrote a nice piece on the ’97 team. Did you know that Minor hit a 3-run homer in the ’97 SAL All-Start Game – I didn’t.
How about this story – again courtesy of the program. Shields was apparently smoked in the cheek during infield practice one day by a Ryan Minor throw. It shattered Shields’ cheekbone and necessitated surgery to install a metal plate and several pins. He was out of commission for a little while. In his place, a young roving instructor named Dave Stockstill stepped in. Interesting, right?
I’ll have to ask Minor about that story next time he drops in the office.
92 days until the home opener on April 12 against Greensboro – now the Grasshoppers, not the Bats.