ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The inaugural recipient of Minor League Baseball's annual Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award is Minnesota Twins Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz. He will be honored, along with Minor League Baseball's other major award winners, during the Baseball Winter Meetings™ to be held December 8-11 at the Las Vegas Hilton.
The Bender Award is presented to someone with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development. Jim has been in his current position overseeing Minnesota's farm system, annually considered among the best in baseball, since 1986. Under his watch, the Twins' Minor League affiliates have finished with a combined winning percentage over .500 in 19 of 23 seasons. Jim's tenure with the Twins dates back to the club's inception in 1961, when he was a player in their farm system.
"Jim Rantz epitomizes the spirit of the Chief Bender Award by his dedicated career with the Twins," stated Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner. "Jim has led the Twins' efforts to build from within and partner with Minor League Baseball affiliates to develop talent in positive settings. We congratulate Jim on winning the inaugural Sheldon 'Chief' Bender Award."
Rantz is in charge of developing talent for the Twins and personnel moves and contract negotiations with Minor League players. He is also responsible for the working relationships with Minnesota affiliates in Rochester, New Britain, Fort Myers, Beloit, Elizabethton and the Twins' entry in the Gulf Coast League.
"I'm very honored to receive the Chief Bender Award," said Rantz. "He was such a role model. Chief was not only a solid baseball man, but a true gentleman of the game."
Jim was a pitcher in the Twins system for four years. He then managed their St. Cloud affiliate for one season, leading it to a league title in 1965. After that season, Rantz left the field and joined the Twins front office. He worked in public relations for four years before getting involved in player development.