Coaching Staff Set for Inaugural Season at BB&T Ballpark
The 2014 Charlotte Knights coaching staff was announced on Tuesday, January 21 — making it the first staff to lead the Knights into a new chapter of Charlotte baseball history.
After finishing up 25 years in Fort Mill in 2013, the Knights are set to return home to Charlotte, NC for the first time since 1988. BB&T Ballpark will officially open its doors for Opening Day on Friday, April 11 as the Knights host the Norfolk Tides in a 7:05 p.m. game.
This is the crew that will lead the Knights.
Joel Skinner – Manager
The 2014 season will be Skinner’s third-straight with the Knights. The last manager to pilot the Knights for three-straight seasons was Nick Capra, who managed the club from 2002-04. Skinner has 148 wins over his two-year Knights career — second only to Capra’s 197.
Skinner’s 2012 squad won 83 games — the second highest single-season win total in Knights franchise history. The Knights won 86 games under Charlie Manuel in 1993. The ’93 team won the Governors’ Cup Championship and was led by Jim Thome, Sam Horn, and Manny Ramirez.
Speaking of Manuel, Skinner replaced Manuel at the helm of the Cleveland Indians on July 11, 2002. He finished the season 39-47. By managing the Indians, the Skinner family became just the third family in Major League Baseball history to manage at the Major League level. They joined the Macks (Connie & Earle) and the Sislers (George & Dick).
A nine-year Major Leaguer, Skinner finished out his career in 1994 in a Minor League stint with the Charlotte Knights. He is one of just two people to play for the Knights and later manage them (Nick Capra is the other).
A year after his playing career came to an end, he took the Watertown Indians to a League Championship as a manager (1995). He’s had a ton of success as a manger and now he will look to continue that success in 2014 in Uptown Charlotte.
Richard Dotson – Pitching Coach
The 2014 season will be Dotson’s seventh-straight with the Knights as pitching coach and 13th overall in the White Sox system. He’s done a great job developing young pitchers during his time as Charlotte’s pitching coach.
As a player, Dotson was a solid Major League pitcher. He had a remarkable 1983 season as a member of the Chicago White Sox. “Dot” finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting after posting an impressive 22-7 mark with a 3.23 ERA. He won 18 of his last 20 decisions that season for the division champion White Sox.
A former first-round pick of the California Angels in the 1977 draft, Dotson went on to win 111 games at the Major League level. He had seven seasons of 10 wins or more and was an American League All-Star in 1984.
Dotson and Skinner go back a long time. The two were teammates with the White Sox and with the New York Yankees during their playing days.
Ryan Newman – Assistant Coach
Newman is a newcomer to the Knights. For the past six seasons, Newman has managed in the Minors. Five of those six seasons have been spent as a manager in the White Sox system. After two seasons with Bristol and two with Great Falls (2011-12), Newman moved up the ranks and managed Winston Salem (A+) to a 71-69 record last season.
Ryan is the son of Jeff Newman, a former Major League player, coach, and manager. Jeff hit 22 home runs for the Oakland A’s in 1979. Seven years later (1986), Jeff managed the A’s on an interim basis. The team went 2-8 during his brief tenure.
Newman guided Great Falls (Advanced Rookie) to a Pioneer League Championship in 2011 and has done a solid job as a manager. He should be a great addition to the Knights staff this season.
Andy Tomberlin – Hitting Coach
Tomberlin, a native of Monroe, NC, returns to the Knights after spending the 2013 season as the hitting coach of the Kannapolis Intimidators (A). A product of Piedmont High School, Tomberlin spent the 2012 season as Charlotte’s hitting coach and returns to the Triple-A level for 2014.
In 2012, the Knights went to the Governors’ Cup finals and the team hit .254 as a team with 105 home runs and 592 RBIs. Dan Johnson hit an impressive 28 home runs that year.
Tomberlin appeared in 192 games at the Major League level over parts of six seasons with the Pirates, Red Sox, A’s, Mets, and Tigers. He spent 15 seasons in the Minors and played in the International League in 1990-92 with Richmond, 1994 with Pawtucket, 1996 with Norfolk, 1998 with Richmond and Toledo, 1999 with Norfolk, and 2000 with Buffalo. He played for five different International League teams over his career.
In fact, technically you could say six IL teams. He also played for the Durham Bulls in 1988-89 when the team was the Single-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. His manager back then… former Charlotte O’s manager Grady Little.
Also, the Knights will have Joe Geck as the team’s Athletic Trainer and Chad Efron is back in Charlotte as the club’s Strength & Conditioning Coach. Efron was also in Kannapolis in 2013 after spending 2012 with the Knights.