Monday, December 21, 2015

Dement Confirmed, Dothan-BayBears Marriage? Coaches Caravan

Some coaching assignments are being announced for other teams in the league, but no "official" word from the Rays about Montgomery's coaches yet.


For a few weeks now there have been rumors flying that former Biscuits player Dan Dement will take over the hitting coaches duties with Ozzie Timmons promoted to Durham.

Sources I have talked with confirm that the rumor is true, Dement will join the Skitz coaching staff, along with RC Lichtenstein, under manager Brady Williams.

Dan Dement attended the University of Alabama and was a member of the inaugural Biscuits squad in 2004. Dan hit .256 in 98 games that summer, swatting eight homers which was good for fourth among Montgomery sluggers that first season. Dement appeared at second base, third base and, more often, in the outfield.

MsBraves new MGR

Over in Mississippi, the Braves have brought Luis Salazar to skipper the team. Pitching coach Dennis Llewallyn returns along with Gary Ingram as hitting coach.

Salazar was hitting coach for the Suns in 2008 and Chattanooga in 2009, so he is no stranger to the Southern League.

Luis lost his left eye in 2011 when he was drilled by a foul ball but obviously has not let that slow him down at all. He most recently managed at Lynchburg for four seasons and will likely pass the 600 wins mark as a manager this year. 


The Smokies announced their new manager would be Mark Johnson, a former big league catcher with the WhiteSox, Cards and others. Johnson is a Georgia native and played in the Southern League as a minor leaguer in the 1990s, so it will be interesting to hear his take on how things have changed since his last look around the league.
Mark L. Johnson, catcher and big league brawler

For the Smokies, Desi Wilson returns as hitting instructor but a new pitching coach arrives in the form of Terry Clark. Clark spent six season in the majors, mostly as a reliever, with teams like Houston, Atlanta, the Orioles and Angels.

While it is likely Brady Williams returns to the helm of the Biscuits, a rematch between the Skitz skipper and Carlos Subero will have to wait. The Shuckers manager has been assigned to first base coaching duties at Milwaukee this summer.

Mobile is considering a new ballpark and a good play-by-play on the situation can be found in an article by Jon Sharp. It includes a ton of links to past articles on the Mobile baseball saga as well as current info, including that the Baybears finally made a $25K payment on their rent, for the first time in years.

2nd half Champion Biscuits celebrate at The Hank in Mobile
The article generated a ton of comments, but if you don't want to wade into the writing here is the jist:

Mobile owns the Hank and doesn't owe any debt on it.
The BayBears are signed at the Hank thru 2022.
The BayBears are signed with the Dbax thru 2016.
The Hank is the oldest park in the league and draws the fewest fans per game.
Mobile needs to put at least $100K into the field drainage now and will need to spend $1 million overall to get the park into shape.
New parks cost $20+ million, but the city will discuss a new park at an upcoming City Council meeting.

Its a bad situation and the city knows it. Without any guarantees past the 2016 season, look for the BayBears to bolt unless Mobile either puts up money to repair the Hank or agree to build a new park.


1951 Dothan Browns, AFL Champs
I made a contact last week that gave me info on the situation in Dothan. The city got good results from their feasibility study and now will look to drum up local support - including a corporate backer to share the cost of the new ballpark.

A Southern League team would "be a good fit" if a team becomes available my source told me. The only stumbling block at this point is getting the community on board with luring baseball to the wiregrass, a plan backed by the Dothan Chamber of Commerce.

From the looks of it, a Dothan-BayBears matchup is building momentum.

On July 16th of this coming year, Bill Plott will be speaking on the Negro Southern League at the Dept of Archives as a part of their "Food for Thought" lunchtime lecture program. Plott is perhaps the most knowledgeable source for Negro Southern League history anywhere.

You can be sure I am looking forward to this lecture, having heard him speak previously at the annual Southern Association history conference. Plott is a noted historian and author, as well as being a distinguished journalist - he was a sports writer for the Montgomery newspaper for much of the Rebels best years and can be found as author of many history related articles used as references in this blog.

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