The Las Vegas 51s professional baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, announced today, in conjunction with the Blue Jays, that former Las Vegas Stars player Mike Basso
was named manager for the 2009 season. He is the 19th manager in the history of the Las Vegas franchise (1983 - 2008, 26 seasons).
The 51s coaching staff was also announced as Ken Joyce will serve as hitting instructor and Dave LaRoche will serve as pitching coach. Last season, Joyce and LaRoche both served in the same capacity with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays. Jon Woodworth was named Athletic Trainer of the 51s.
Basso played in parts of four seasons for the Las Vegas Stars (1988, 1990, '92-93), then Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. He joined the Toronto organization in 2003 as manager in Single-A Dunedin. In 2006, he was the Triple-A manager at Syracuse of the International League. He served the last two seasons (2007-08) as Coordinator of Instruction for the clubs minor league system.
"I look forward in returning to Las Vegas," Basso said. "The franchise has been there for a long time. I both played and coached there (1995, hitting coach for the first half of season) and now I will have the opportunity to manage there. Las Vegas is a great place to play and the Blue Jays and the 51s will have a great relationship.
"Las Vegas has a great staff in place with Don Logan and I'm looking forward to working with everyone and to also see again some of the longtime season ticket holders."
Basso, 44, has compiled a 10-year managerial record of 692-644 (.518) and a post-season record of 18-14 (.563). He began his managerial career in 1995 with Idaho Falls. In 2004, New Hampshire captured the league championship and compiled a regular season record of 85-57 (.596). He was named the 2003 recipient of the Blue Jays' Bobby Mattick Player Development Award, recognizing the top manager or coach within the Club's minor league player development system.
"We are excited to have Mike as our manager," 51s President and General Manager Don Logan said. "This is a great first step to build a strong bond between the Blue Jays and 51s. He has a solid baseball reputation and has done a fine job as a member of the Toronto organization. He was a member of the Las Vegas Stars for four seasons and was a great asset to the organization and participated in numerous community and charitable appearances.
Mike and his wife, Kathy, are great people and it will be tremendous to have them back in Las Vegas with their three children (Tyler, Brady and Ryan)."
He was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 18th round of the 1986 draft. He spent nine years in the Padres organization as a player, another six seasons as a manager and coach in the team's minor league system and two years as an advance scout for the Major League Club.
He played a total of nine seasons in the minor leagues and progressed as far as Triple-A Las Vegas as a catcher in the Padres organization (1986-94). His career was slowed by a series of back and knee injuries and, in 1993, he batted .253 with the Stars. He spent the 1994 season as a player-coach with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga of the California League. He appeared in 537 career minor league games and batted a career-best .298 with Spokane in 1986.
Basso is a 1982 graduate of Pearland (Texas) High School and a 2002 inductee to the school's Hall of Fame and attended the University of Houston.
Basso's Managerial/Coaching Career:
(Joined Blue Jays organization in 2003)
1994, Player/Coach, Rancho Cucamonga, California League (Padres)
1995, Manager, Idaho, Pioneer League (Padres)
1996-98, Manager, Rancho Cucamonga, California League (Padres)
1999-2000, Manager, Mobile, Southern League (Padres)
2001-02, Advance Scout, San Diego Padres
2003, Manager, Dunedin, Florida State League (Blue Jays)
2004-05, Manager, New Hampshire, Eastern League (Blue Jays)
2006, Manager, Syracuse, International League (Blue Jays)
2007-08, Coordinator of Instruction (Blue Jays)
Las Vegas Franchise All-Time Managers List:
1983, Harry Dunlop (83-60, .580)
1984-85, Bob Cluck (136-144, .486)
1986, Larry Bowa (80-62, .563, PCL Champions)
1987, Jack Krol (69-73, .486)
1988-89, Steve Smith (148-135, .523, '88 PCL Champions)
1990, Pat Kelly (58-86, .403)
1991-92, Jim Riggleman (139-145, .489)
1993-94, Russ Nixon (114-172, .399)
1995, Tim Flannery (61-83, .424)
1996-98, 2005-06, Jerry Royster (323-387, .455)
1999, Mike Ramsey (67-75, .472)
2000, Duane Espy (30-20, .600)
2000, Tony Franklin (43-50, .462)
2001, Rick Sofield (68-76, .472)
2002, Brad Mills (85-59, .590, PCL Manager of the Year)
2003, John Shoemaker (76-66, .535)
2004, Terry Kennedy (67-76, .469)
2007-08, Lorenzo Bundy (141-146, .491)
Joyce enters his first season as the hitting instructor for the 51s. He served the last two seasons (2007-08) as the hitting instructor for the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire. He joined the Blue Jays organization in 2002. He has a five-year managerial record of 329-292 (.530). He managed at Utica (New York Penn League) for two seasons (1998-99), Adirondack (Northern League, 2001), Charleston (South Atlantic League, 2004), and Lansing (Midwest League) for two seasons (2005-06). In the Blue Jays organization, he has also served as coach with Medicine Hat (2002) and New Haven (2003).
He attended the University of Southern Maine and played in the 1985 NAIA College World Series. He spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Southern Maine. He coached in the 1989 NCAA Division III World Series and elected to the University of Southern Maine Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2001, he was elected into the State of Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
LaRoche begins his first season as the pitching coach for the 51s. He spent the last four seasons (2005-08) as the pitching coach for the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate in New Hampshire. He joined the Blue Jays organization in 2005 and began his coaching career in the New York Yankees organization with Albany (Eastern League) in 1984. He was the pitching coach with Fort Lauderdale (1986) and Columbus (1986), Syracuse (International League, 1987), Kingsport (1988), Co-Pitching Coach (Chicago White Sox, 1989-91), bullpen coach (New York Mets, 1992-93), pitching coach with Pittsfield (1994-95), Gulf Coast League Royals (2002) and Omaha Royals of the Pacific Coast League (2003-04). He is the father of Adam and Andy LaRoche of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Andy was a member of the Las Vegas 51s from 2006-08.
The former left-handed pitcher enjoyed a 14-year Major League career with California (1970-71, 1977-80), Minnesota (1972), Chicago Cubs (1973-74), Cleveland (1975-77) and New York Yankees (1981-83). He appeared in 260 career games and posted a 65-58 record with a 3.53 ERA in 1,049 innings pitched.
Woodworth returns for his 28th season in the Blue Jays organization as Athletic Trainer, and 2009 will represent his 15th season at the Triple-A level. He is a 1980 graduate of East Carolina University with a B.S. degree in Health/Physical Education and a concentration in Sports Medicine.
The 51s open their 27th season in the Silver State on Thursday, April 9 against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, at Colorado Springs, Colo. The 2009 home opener will be on Friday, April 17 against Colorado Springs at 7:05 p.m. at Cashman Field.
Season tickets and mini-plan packages (10, 20, 33-game plans) are available by calling the 51s office at (702) 798-7825 or log on to the team's website at www.LV51.com.