Forkerway Pleased with First Year as Hawks "Skip"

Managing a professional group of ballplayers, at any age, is always difficult. The same is true for 34-year-old Trey Forkerway, the first year manager of the Cubs' short-season, Class-A affiliate in Boise.

Born in Abilene, Texas, Forkerway played college baseball at the University of Oklahoma and eventually went on to play five seasons in the Cubs' farm system. He retired in 1999 while at Class High-A Daytona and has spent the last six-plus seasons as a coach/instructor/manager in the organization.

"Oh, it's gone extremely well," Forkerway proudly said of his first year at the helm of the Hawks. "It's been a good opportunity to see these kids play in front of the good crowds we've had. I've had the opportunity to travel and do all the things it takes to be a manager in this league. It's gone well."

Forkerway guided the Arizona League Mesa Cubs last season to a 27-29 record in his first taste of managerial experience. The move from a complex league up to a Class-A league is one that came about somewhat unexpectedly for him.

"I've switched roles pretty much every year in the organization," said Forkerway, "but this came as a bit of a surprise. They needed someone at this level and it happened to work out for me. After being in Mesa last year, I thought I was going there again this year. I had a new opportunity arise and I took it."

The most obvious difference between a complex league in Arizona and a short-season league in the northwest is fan support. This season, the Hawks are again ranked near the top in attendance for the second straight year. With an average of 2,900 fans per night, they have the fourth best attendance in the eight-team league.

A season ago, the Northwest League champions drew 108,830 to Memorial Stadium in Boise, again good for fourth place in league attendance records.

"It's more of a controlled environment here," said Forkerway. "When you get into this league, you have older players and situations where both draft picks and second-year guys are constantly coming in here. The fan factor is really the biggest thing you encounter."

Among the talented crop of rookies and "sophomores" Forkerway has on his club this year include second round draft pick Donald Veal, speedy center fielder Davy Gregg, and pitchers Darin Downs and Jonathan Hunton.

While acknowledging the importance of the rookies' success, Forkerway notes that second-year players are quick to rely on for laying the groundwork to a successful team.

"The guys who have already been here have a tendency to be the foundation because of their experiences in this league," Forkerway said.

"We have a good core group of kids here. The whole time in extended spring training, we had time to groom our guys. It was a good opportunity to prepare them for the 76 games here. The guys have come out and done what they do on a regular basis, and thankfully without the injury bug taking over."

As a former player himself, Forkerway of course relays past experiences he encountered on the field to his players on this year's Hawks club. He says it helps them understand that their manager, too, was once one of them, having gone through many of the same up's and down's associated with professional ball.

And at age 34, Forkerway is still young enough to play the game himself, although he admits it isn't likely to happen.

"I've already saw the writing on the wall," he says with a hearty laugh.

"But it was a great opportunity for me to get into coaching. The Cubs were nice enough to give me a chance to coach in their organization. It was a nice gesture since my career was toward the end."

Forkerway's Hawks concluded a five-game series at Vancouver on Tuesday night with a 4-2 win. With a 26-35 record, they remain only three games back of first place Spokane in the tightly congested Northwest League East.

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