Spikes Coaching Staff Set for Initial Season

Veteran Minor League Manager Mark DeJohn to Lead 2006 NY-Penn League State College Spikes.

State College, PAThe St. Louis Cardinals today announced their 2006 minor league coaching assignments earlier today, and the State College Spikes will be piloted by a coaching staff with nearly 30 years of Major League playing and coaching experience during their inaugural season.  Mark DeJohn will manage the Spikes and will be joined on the bench by pitching coach Sid Monge, hitting coach Steve Balboni and bench coach Mike Shildt. 


DeJohn, 52-years old, begins his second season as a manager in the New York-Penn League, after guiding the New Jersey Cardinals to a 37-39 record and a fourth place finish in the McNamara Division during the 2005 season.    DeJohn spent the three previous seasons managing the Cardinals' Double-A franchise – two years with the Tennessee Smokies (Southern League) and one year with the New Haven Ravens (Eastern League).  Prior to beginning his managerial career, DeJohn served as a coach on Tony LaRussa's staff in Saint Louis from 1996-2001. 


DeJohn's playing career began in 1971 when he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 23rd round of the June draft, out of Woodrow Wilson High School in Middletown, CT.  He played in the Mets system for seven seasons, including a stop in the New York-Penn League with the Batavia Clippers.  At the age of 18,  DeJohn hit .205 with his first career home run and 10 RBI in 69 games for the Mets' Single-A Affiliate.  DeJohn signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1978 and reached the major leagues with the club in 1982.  Mark appeared in 24 games, serving mainly as a back-up for the classic double-play combination of Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell. 


Mark made the transition to coach for the 1983 season, serving as a minor league instructor for the Tigers.  DeJohn briefly moved to the Kansas City Royals organization in 1985 as a coach for their Eugene affiliate, and later that season landed his first managerial job with the Tigers' affiliate in Birmingham, before re-joining the Cardinals' organization in 1986 as manager of the Savannah Cardinals.  He spent two seasons in Savannah before moving on to the Springfield Cardinals of the Midwest League in 1988, and then to Johnson City of the Appalachian League for two seasons.  DeJohn then managed the Tigers Eastern League affiliate in London, Ontario in 1992 before returning to the Cardinals organization in 1993 as the minor league field coordinator. 


Sid Monge enters his seventh year with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, and his fourth consecutive season in the New York-Penn League.  Monge spent the 2002 season with Potomac (Carolina League), 2001 with Johnson City (Appalachian League) and 2000 with Peoria (Midwest League).  The former big-league lefthander also worked in the San Diego Padres system from 1997-1999 and with the Detroit Tigers from 1992-1996. 


Monge was 49-40 with a 3.53 ERA during his 10-year career in the Major Leagues.  He played with the Angels (1975-77), Indians (1977-1981), Phillies (1982-1983), and Tigers (1984).  Monge was selected to the 1979 All-Star Game as a member of the American League squad, and went on to have his best season as a pro, posting a 12-10 record with 108 strikeouts and a 2.40 ERA in 76 games.  Monge, who is 54-years old,  was voted into the Mexican Baseball Hall-of-Fame in 1983. 


Steve Balboni enters his fifth season with the Cardinals organization, after spending the last four seasons as a hitting instructor.  He has spent the last four seasons working with Mark DeJohn in New Jersey (2005), Tennessee (2004,2003) and New Haven (2002).  Balboni spent the 2001 season as the manager of the New York-Penn League's Vermont Expos leading them to a 28-47 record. 


He became known as "Bye Bye" Balboni during his 11-year major league career with the Yankees, Kansas City, Seattle and Texas, because of his powerful swing.  From 1984 – 1988, Balboni hit at least 21 home runs, including the 1985 season in which he hit 36 home runs with 88 RBI to help lead the Royals to a World Series victory.  The 49 year-old retired in 1993 with 181 home runs and 495 RBI in 960 games.   Balboni was selected in the 2nd round of the 1978 draft by the New York Yankees out of Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, FL.   


Mike Shildt enters his third season with the Cardinals organization, and will serve as a bench coach for the Spikes.  Shildt worked part time in 2005 with the New Jersey Cardinals in the same capacity, but focused mainly on his scouting duties for the Cardinals.  Prior to joining the Cardinals organization, Shildt coached high school baseball in North Carolina before moving on to be an assistant coach at UNC-Charlotte. 


In addition, Manubu "Boo" Kuwazuru will join the Spikes staff as the athletic trainer.  The 2006 season will be Boo's third season with the Cardinals and his third season in the NYPL.  Prior to joining the St. Louis Cardinals, Kuwazuru worked for the University of Nebraska and the New York Jets.  Boo received his masters from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2003.


The new coaching staff will make their debut in June, when the Spikes will begin play as a member of the Short-Season Class-A, New York-Penn League, pending approval from the NYPL and Minor League Baseball, and review by the Baseball Office of the Commissioner. Season tickets for the inaugural season are on sale now and can be purchased over the phone by calling (814) 272-1711, or in person by visiting the Spikes front offices located at 204 E. Calder Way, Suite 210 in downtown State College. 


The Spikes are owned and operated by Curve Baseball LP, the same group that operates the successful Altoona Curve franchise in the Double-A Eastern League. Because of the proximity between Altoona and State College, the two clubs will feature a unique, integrated front office staff structure by which each member of the Curve Baseball LP front office will operate both franchises under the continued leadership of President and Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg and Curve General Manager Todd Parnell. Earlier this year, Rick Janac, who spent the previous four seasons as the Curve's Assistant General Manager, was named the GM of the new State College franchise.


For additional Spikes news and information, and to order brand-new team merchandise, visit www.statecollegespikes.com or call the Spikes offices at (814) 272-1711.


The Dish on DeJohn

Age: 52, born: September 18, 1953

Family: Daughter: Stephanie , Son: Timothy

Drafted: 23rd round, New York Mets, 1971

Hometown: Middletown, CT

Resides: New Britain, CT

School: Woodrow Wilson HS (Middletown, CT)

Managerial Experience: 11 seasons - Birmingham (‘85), Savannah (‘86,'87), Springfield (‘88), Johnson City(‘89,'90), London (‘92), New Haven (‘01), Tennessee (‘02,'03), New Jersey (‘04)

MLB Career: 1 season - Detroit (1982) - 24 games, .190 (4-21), one run scored, two doubles, one RBI

Career in Minors: 11 seasons - Marion (R), Batavia (A), Pompano Beach (A), Victoria (AA), Tidewater (AAA), Evansville (AAA)

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