MANCHESTER, N.H. - In conjunction with their major league affiliate, the Toronto Blue Jays, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats introduced the new field staff that will guide the team during the 2014 season. Former major league player and coach Bobby Meacham will skipper the club, taking the reins from Gary Allenson, the new manager for the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y.
Meacham will be joined by one-time Fisher Cats hitting coach Jon Nunnally and new pitching coach Jim Czajkowski. Veterans Bob Tarpey and Brian Pike return to comprise the sports medicine performance team for their fifth consecutive season together in New Hampshire.
"This announcement always injects a little warmth into a cold, snowy winter," said Fisher Cats President Rick Brenner. "It's hard to believe spring training is a month away and that we are just 80 days from the start of our season. We look forward to meeting Bobby and Jim for the first time, and reuniting with Jon, Bob, and Brian for another exciting summer at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium."
Meacham advances to Double-A in his second season in the Blue Jays organization. Last summer, he piloted the Dunedin Blue Jays to a first-half divisional title and a playoff berth in the Florida State League. Prior to that campaign, he spent six of the previous seven seasons as a base coach in the major leagues with the Florida Marlins (2006), San Diego Padres (2007), New York Yankees (2008), and Houston Astros (2010-12).
A first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1981, Meacham spent six seasons in the major leagues as a shortstop with the Yankees (1983-88). After his playing career, he made his coaching debut with Kansas City in 1991, and has since held minor league positions with the Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, and Blue Jays. He will begin the 2014 season 74 wins shy of his 500th managerial victory.
Nunnally shares major league coaching experience with Meacham as he returns to New Hampshire for a second season. After guiding New Hampshire hitters in 2012, Nunnally progressed to Triple-A Buffalo last year. In his lone season with the Bisons, he watched several players advance to the major leagues, including former Fisher Cats Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar.
A former major league outfielder, Nunnally began his coaching career in 2006 with the Cleveland Indians, and he served as the club's major league hitting coach in 2010-11. The North Carolina native was drafted by Cleveland in the third round in 1992, launching a 15-year career that included parts of six seasons in the major leagues as well as time in Japan.
Czajkowski will mark his fourth season in the Blue Jays system, but his first with a United States-based affiliate. Czajkowski debuted with Toronto in 2011 during the organization's first year of partnership with the Vancouver Canadians (Northeast League). In three seasons, Czajkowski saw nothing but success as the Canadians captured their third straight Northwest League title last September. The most recent title team benefitted from Czajkowski's tutelage as Canadians pitchers posted the best ERA in the league at 3.23.
Prior to coaching Blue Jays pitchers, Czajkowski spent 15 years as a coach with the Atlanta Braves, including 11 seasons as pitching coach. As a player he was a three-time All-Star over 12 minor league seasons, and he earned his only major league experience during the Colorado Rockies' inaugural 1994 season.
Tarpey returns to the Fisher Cats clubhouse for his fifth consecutive season as the team's athletic trainer. The Blue Jays are the only major league organization that the York, Maine, native has known, having joined the organization full-time in 2006. He graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle before earning a master's degree at California University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Fisher Cats, Tarpey tended to players with the Pulaski Blue Jays (2006-07) and the Lansing Lugnuts (2008-09), earning Midwest League Trainer of the Year honors in 2008.
Pike is back for his sixth season spread over two stints as the Fisher Cats Strength and Conditioning coach. The Gorham, N.H., native began his baseball career in 2006 before making his New Hampshire debut a year later. After a year away from baseball, Pike returned to the Blue Jays in 2009 and has been with the Fisher Cats, paired with Tarpey, each season since 2010. Pike is a graduate of Plymouth State University.
Opening Day at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is April 10, 2014, against the Binghamton Mets (New York Mets). Fisher Cats Full and Half-Season Tickets and Mini-Ticket Plans are on sale now. Plans include a variety of free gifts and unique benefits, including all-you-can-eat barbecues, a free kid's birthday party, flexible exchange policies, invitations to exclusive events, gift cards, and more. To view the benefits of each plan, visit www.nhfishercats.com or call (603) 641-2005.