Jackson, Tenn. - The Seattle Mariners announced on Tuesday that hitting coach Roy Howell would assume managerial duties for the Jackson Generals for the remainder of the 2015 season. Jim Horner, who had managed Seattle's Double-A affiliate since the beginning of last year, recently accepted an assistant coaching position at Washington State University.
It marks the second-consecutive season that Howell has taken over as manager for a Seattle affiliate. Last March, he replaced Rich Donnelly as the manager at Triple-A Tacoma after Donnelly was named the Mariners' third-base coach in Spring Training. He led the Rainiers to a 74-70 mark, and his 74 victories were tied for the ninth-most by a manager in his first full season.
Howell, in his fourth season with the Mariners organization, spent 2012 and 2013 with the High Desert Mavericks in the California League.
The 61-year-old had a distinguished career as a player, spending time with three Major League teams in 11 seasons. In 1,112 big league games, Howell hit .261 with 80 home runs and 454 RBIs. He was an American League All-Star with Toronto in 1978 and he played for Milwaukee in the 1982 World Series. The California native was picked fourth overall in 1972 by the Rangers and made his MLB debut with Texas at the age of 20 just two years later.
"He has a tremendous amount of baseball knowledge. I lean on him all the time even when I'm managing," Horner said of Jackson's new skipper. "The guy was in the big leagues at the age of 20. How can you not just listen to everything that guys says?"
Howell's coaching career began in 2000 in the San Diego Padres organization. He spent three seasons as a coach at Triple-A Portland in the Pacific Coast League before managing the Eugene Emeralds in the Short-Season Northwest League from 2003 to 2005.
From 2007 to 2010, Howell served as manager of his hometown's San Luis Obispo Rattlers of the California Collegiate League. In 2011, he was at the helm of the Road Warriors in the Independent Atlantic League. The Road Warriors played a full 124-game slate without a home contest.
Horner goes back to where it all began for him. The Washington native played for the Cougars from 1993 to 1996, earning All-Pac-10 honors in his senior season.
"It's a great opportunity for me and not only just for me, but my family as well," Horner said. "The fact that I get to go back and coach at Washington State is something my wife and I have dreamed about doing just because we love the area. It's a blessing to be able to go back."
Horner's roots stayed in the Pacific Northwest after college, as the Mariners signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 1996. He spent nine years as a minor league catcher, playing for Triple-A Tacoma in parts of three seasons. He was a Texas League All-Star with the Double-A San Antonio Missions in 2003.
He got into coaching immediately after his playing career ended. In 2005, he was a coach with the Everett AquaSox in the Northwest League where he was in the dugout across from Howell in Eugene. His managerial career began in 2006 with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League in 2006.
After two years with the Timber Rattlers, Horner became skipper of the High Desert Mavericks in 2008. In 2009, he led the Mavs to an 83-57 record and was named California League Manager of the Year and Mariners Player Development Staff Member of the Year after winning division titles in both halves.
This will be Horner's second go-around in the collegiate game. He left Seattle and High Desert in the middle of 2010 to work as an assistant at Texas Tech, where he spent three seasons before returning to Seattle.
He managed High Desert again in 2013 before making his way to Jackson last year. The Generals were 63-76 last season before going 31-42 under Horner in 74 games in 2015.
"I've loved everything about the professional game and working with the Seattle Mariners. They gave me my start as a player. They let me jump in and start coaching. I guess you could say it's more bittersweet than anything."
That feeling extends beyond just the baseball-side of Horner's job. He only spent a couple of seasons with the Generals, but his time in the Southern League was memorable.
"It's been great. The people in Jackson have been great. The front office in Jackson has been phenomenal to work with. I'm going to miss all those guys, but it's a good opportunity for me to move on to a different part of my life and I'm looking forward to it.
Monday's 4-0 shutout of Birmingham was Horner's last as Jackson skipper. Howell takes the reigns for the team's series opener against Mobile Wednesday, July 1. No additions to the coaching staff have been made at this time.
The Generals open up a three-game set at home against Mobile Wednesday. Thursday is the team's first State Farm Agent Wes Harris Dollar Night of the month, and Friday is the team's big Independence Day Celebration! July 3 features postgame fireworks sponsored by Community Bank, a performance by the Fur Circus presented by the TJ Network, special patriotic jerseys that will be auctioned of and so much more! Get your tickets now by calling the team at (731) 988.5299, stopping by the park or going online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.