Lakeland's Dave Huppert, already the wins leader among active Minor League managers, notched the 1,800th of his career Saturday night as the Flying Tigers topped Tampa, 10-8, at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Huppert is in his 26th season as a Minor League skipper and his third with the Flying Tigers. He began his managerial career with Helena in 1986 and also has coached in the White Sox, Marlins, Expos and Phillies organizations. The South Gate, Calif., native has been managing since before any of his players were born, except for Octavio Dotel, who is with Lakeland on a rehab assignment.
Last season, Huppert managed Lakeland to the Florida State League championship. He also won the South Atlantic League championship with Lakewood in 2006 and another Florida State League title with Clearwater in 2007.
The 56-year-old has twice earned Manager of the Year honors, first in 1988 in the California League and again in 2001 in the FSL.
Huppert was signed by the Orioles as a catcher in 1977 and in 1981 caught all but two of 33 innings for Triple-A Rochester in the longest game in professional baseball history. He made it to the Major Leagues in 1983 and played in 17 games with the Orioles and Brewers, collecting one hit in 25 plate appearances.
On Saturday, the Flying Tigers trailed, 8-4, heading to the bottom of the eighth inning before scoring six runs. The rally was highlighted by a bases-loaded triple by Aaron Westlake, who scored on a wild pitch by Yankees reliever Joel De La Cruz.
Lakeland is in second place in the FSL North Division second-half standings, four games behind Daytona. The Flying Tigers finished fifth in the first half with a 30-38 record.
Huppert still has a ways to go to catch Stan Wasiak, who won a Minor League-record 2,530 games, mostly in the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers farm system.