BURLINGTON, Iowa -- For the first time in five years, the Burlington Bees will have a new skipper at the helm as the Kansas City Royals named Brian Rupp as the team's field manager in 2008. Rupp replaces Jim Gabella in the Bees dugout after an unprecedented four-year run as the Bees' skipper. Rupp moves up from short-season Idaho Falls where he had been managing the Chukars for the last four seasons and this assignment marks his return to the Midwest League after a nine-year hiatus. He was the Peoria Chiefs manager in 1999 when the Chiefs were an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Royals also announced that hitting coach Ryan Long will return for a second season with the Bees and former Major Leaguer Doug Henry will join the Royals organization from the Atlanta Braves, and be the Bees pitching coach. The Royals will announce an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach at a later date.
The 2008 campaign will be Rupp's fifth year with the Royals after leading the Chukars to the post-season in three of the last four years and the Pioneer League Championship Series in each of the last two seasons. His overall record with the Chukars was 161-143. The upcoming season will be his eighth as a minor league manager. The '99 season in Peoria was his managerial debut when he led the Chiefs to a 63-76 record. He stayed in the Cardinals organization for three more years. He was the hitting coach for Double-A Arkansas in 2000, managed New Jersey in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2001, and managed Johnson City in the short-season Appalachian League in 2002. His career managerial record is 288-298.
As a player, Rupp was drafted by the Cardinals in the 43rd round of the 1992 draft after a standout career at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he is a member of the UMSL Sports Hall of Fame. He played seven seasons in the Cardinals minor league system, getting as high as Triple-A. He was the Arizona League MVP and batting champion in his first year and won the South Atlantic League batting title in 1993 with Savannah. He had a .295 career average over 742 career games. Rupp makes his home near St. Louis in Florissant, MO. He and his wife Stacie have one son, Andrew.
Gabella had been the Bees manager for the last four years, the longest tenure for a manager in the organization's 46 years in the Midwest League. Under Gabella, the Bees were 245-305, but he led the team to its only winning half as a Royals affiliate in the first half of 2006. Gabella and his family still make their permanent home in Burlington, but Jim will be managing Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League next year. He will also take on the added responsibility of coordinating the Royals extended spring training program next year, with an estimated 70 players to be in camp. Gabella was the recipient of the 2006 Dick Howser Trophy from the Royals, presented annually to a staff member for outstanding contributions to player development. He is currently in Hawaii wrapping up his season as the manager of the West Oahu Canefires in the Hawaiian Winter Baseball League.
Long returns for his second season as the Bees hitting coach, and his second year back with the Royals where he started his playing career as a 2nd-round pick in 1991. He played ten years in the Royals system, including six games in the Major League s in 1997. Long returned to the Royals organization last year after spending six years as a hitting coach in the Chicago White Sox minor league system. Long and his wife Olivia make their off-season home in Pearland, TX near Houston.
Henry joins the Royals after three seasons as a pitching coach in the Atlanta Braves organization. Last year, he was the pitching coach for the Rome Braves in the South Atlantic League. He started his professional coaching career with Myrtle Beach in 2005 and was with the Danville Braves in the Appalachian League in 2006. Like Long, Henry has playing roots with the Royals. He finished his eleven-year Major League career with Kansas City in 2001, and was 2-2 in 53 relief appearances for the Royals. He was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 8th-round of the 1985 draft out of Arizona State University. He made it to the Major Leagues with the Brewers in 1991 and pitched four seasons in Milwaukee. He also pitched for the New York Mets (1995-96), San Francisco Giants (1997 and 2000), and Houston Astros (1998-2000). For his career, he was 34-42 with a 4.19 ERA and 82 saves in 582 relief appearances. Following his retirement from professional baseball in '02, Henry coached at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater before joining the Braves. Henry and his wife Monique make their home in Hartland, WI, with their four children: Danielle, Jason, Zachary, and Mikayla.
Bobby St. Pierre was the Bees pitching coach in 2007 and will serve that same capacity with the Burlington Royals of the short-season Appalachian League this year. Former Bees hitting coach Patrick Anderson (2002-06) will also be in Burlington, NC this year after one season in Idaho Falls. St. Pierre and Anderson will work together for the first time professionally, but played together and against one another growing up in the Maryland. Three other former Bees' staff members remain within the organization. Hitting coach Terry Bradshaw (2001) and pitching coach Tom Burgmeier (2003-05) will be back at Triple-A Omaha with manager Mike Jirschele whose son, Jeremy, played for the Bees in each of the last two seasons. Steve Luebber (2006) will return to high-A Wilmington for a second season as the Blue Rocks pitching coach.
A full listing of the Royals field staffs and roving instructors for the upcoming season is available on the Royals website at www.kcroyals.com. For more information, or media requests to set up interviews with Brian Rupp, Ryan Long, Doug Henry, or Jim Gabella, contact Bees' Asst. GM of Baseball Operations/Broadcaster Randy Wehofer at (319) 754-5705 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.