Heading into Saturday night's game in Bowie, Erie manager Chris Cron knew he needed one more win to reach 1,000 for his Minor League career. He thought he was the only one aware of the milestone.
The 48-year-old skipper read a story about his good friend, Trenton manager Tony Franklin, reaching the same milestone on April 11 and decided to research how close he was. The answer was four victories, but he kept that information to himself.
So after the SeaWolves defeated Bowie, 4-3, what followed was rather unexpected for Cron.
"They got the last out and all of a sudden all the guys start running into the clubhouse," he said. "'What the [heck] are they doing?' I go into my office, take off my jersey and start working on the game report when [second baseman Brandon Douglas] comes in and tells me to come into the clubhouse. He gives a little speech, says, 'I just want to congratulate, for anyone who doesn't know, Chris Cron for his 1,000th win.' So I get the champagne doused over my head and the whole works.
"I didn't see any of it coming. But it means a lot, though, when players recognize a big moment like that for you."
Cron is in his 18th season as a Minor League manager. He spent parts of 16 seasons with the White Sox (1995-99, 2003-10) and Rockies (2000-02) organizations before joining the Tigers last year in his first season with Double-A Erie. Saturday's win gave him a 1,000-1,008 career mark.
Through his time in the Minors, Cron has worked with World Series champions Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand and three-time All-Star Carlos Lee. But Cron was more willing to credit the breadth of his managerial experience for his latest accomplishment than any individual moment.
"It just means I'm old," he said. "I've been around a while, but don't get me wrong -- it is a special feeling, it is a milestone. Our job as coaches is to always just try to make the players better. Do that and the wins continue to pile up. I know a number of other guys have done it, but it's a good feeling, a nice little capper to what I've been able to accomplish."
Cron also noted he hopes Saturday's feat isn't the last notch on his belt.
"I don't rank it that highly," he said. "I have around 1,000 losses, too. It's just a matter of being around a little while. The saying always goes managers don't win games, players win games. Hopefully, they can win 1,000 more for me, too."
Tigers' No. 16 prospect Rob Brantly went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored for the SeaWolves, raising his average to .356 in 11 games. Erie starter James Avery (1-1) allowed one run on five hits over five innings, striking out four and walking one.
Orioles No. 9 prospect Bobby Bundy (1-3) allowed four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits in 4 2/3 frames for the BaySox.