Rico Brogna played Major League Baseball for nine seasons with the Detroit
Tigers, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and finally the Atlanta Braves. Now, nine years
after his playing days ended, he will be managing for the first time alongside returning hitting coach Turner Ward and returning pitching coach Dan Carlson.
Brogna, who was a field coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season, was named the eighth skipper in Mobile BayBears history on Tuesday, replacing former manager Hector De La Cruz.
The former first baseman was a first round pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1988. After reaching the big leagues in 1992, Rico was traded to the New York Mets, with whom he would post a career-best .827 on-base-plus-slugging in 1995. He spent three seasons with the Mets before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 1997 season.
He put together a career year in 1999, hitting .278 with 24 home runs and 102 RBI. He then split time between Philadelphia and Boston in 2000 before playing 72 games for the Braves in 2001. Brogna's biggest attribute as a big leaguer was his glove; he committed just 33 errors in his career and finished with a .995 fielding percentage.
Brogna has been a scout for the Diamondbacks, worked as a volunteer football coach at Wesleyan University, and was later head coach of the boys' basketball team at his high school alma mater. When Jack Howell was named the hitting coach of the parent club, Brogna took over Howell's duties as minor league field coordinator for the remainder of the 2009 season.
"I guess you could say my main job has been scouting over the past four or five years for the Diamondbacks, but I've done a little bit of everything," Brogna said. "I've coached college football, high school basketball and everything in between. I just love teaching and coaching the game. I just want to take the experience I've gained and put it together to make guys better."
During his time in Mobile during the 2009 season, Brogna had a chance to see up close the team he will be leading in the new season.
"Mobile is full of baseball tradition," Brogna said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to manage for the Diamondbacks next season. It's going to be great to get back in uniform and I can't think of a better place to start than Mobile. I had a chance to spend some time there last season, and Hank Aaron Stadium is a beautiful ballpark. The core of the team was solid and I'm looking forward to us getting started in 2010."
The core of the team figures to be a little more stable in 2010 than it was
this year. An unusual number of injuries at higher levels plus
late-season trades caused a dozen players from Mobile's opening day roster
to get promoted at some point.
BayBears President Bill Shanahan commented on the hiring of Brogna: "I had the opportunity to meet Rico last season on his visit to Mobile and was impressed by his knowledge of the game and most importantly his passion for our national pastime! Having Turner Ward as our hitting coach and Dan Carlson as our pitching coach, I feel like we have the triple play combination that our fans and players have been waiting for! We look forward to Rico's leadership of the 2010 BayBears and his family's arrival -wife (Melissa) and children (12-year old Alexa Grace and seven-year old Hunter 7) this upcoming summer after school lets out."
"Rico is a player's manager," added Brett Butler, a former BayBears manager and New York Mets teammate of Brogna's. "He is just a quality human being and an excellent communicator. He will be a great addition to the BayBears family."
Brogna's take on the D-backs farm system in April, 2008:
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