I Vote Greeley Native Tom Runnells to Be the Next Colorado Rockies Manager
I have always enjoyed cheering on hometown guys whether they end up playing for hometown teams or not. Jason Smith, who plays basketball for the New Orleans Hornets, Shawn Chacon, who pitched for multiple major league teams, Washington Redskins defender Reed Doughty, and UFC fighter Shane Carwin just to name a few. It makes it a lot easier to cheer for these guy when they are with the hometown team though. Greeley native Tom Runnells is interviewing for the vacant head coaching position with the Colorado Rockies today. He has my vote.
Runnells who was born in Greeley back in 1955, didn't venture too far from home until later in life. He attended Greeley West High School and then stayed in Greeley for college attending the University of Northern Colorado.
After college Runnells got out of Greeley to play professional baseball. His playing career didn't work out very well. The switch hitter who threw right-handed was originally signed by the San Francisco Giants but never played for them. He played parts of two seasons (1985-86) with the Cincinnati Reds, appearing in 40 games and batting .174 in 46 at bats without a home run or run batted in.
That is when he moved on to coaching. Runnells began his managerial career with Cincinnati's AA Eastern League affiliate, the Vermont Reds, in 1987. In 1989, his Indianapolis Indians won the American Association championship and the "AAA Classic," earning him a promotion to a coaching position with the parent Montreal Expos.
On June 2, 1991, he was promoted to manager of the Expos, who were lodged in last place in the National League East Division after 49 games. His time as Expos manager was short but tumultuous. Succeeding the very popular Buck Rodgers, he had trouble establishing his credibility with the media and the team. He was General Manager Dave Dombrowski's hand-picked man but failed to replicate his minor league success as the Expos finished the 1991 season in last place for the first time since 1976. In what became his defining moment, he made an entrance at spring training in 1992 dressed in marine fatigues, apparently trying to channel the spirit of General Norman Schwartzkopf. Everyone who witnessed the performance found it eerily distressing. He then proceeded to try to shake up the team through various strange moves, such as shifting three-time Gold Glove winner Tim Wallach from third base to first base in order to slot in Bret Barberie, who had hardly ever played the position in organized baseball. The players quickly were in open revolt against their leader. Runnells' position with the front office had become shaky anyway, as Dombrowski had bolted the organization and had been replaced by Dan Duquette, who sacked Runnells on May 22, 1992 in favor of Felipe Alou, who would forge the longest and winningest managerial career in Montreal's history.
After 11 seasons coaching within the Detroit Tigers system, Runnells made his way back to Colorado in 2006 to become the manager of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. In 2009 he was promoted to Bench Coach of the Colorado Rockies when manager Clint Hurdle was fired and bench coach Jim Tracy replaced him.
Jim Tracy has now resigned, and the Rockies need a new coach. I vote for my hometown guy Tom Runnells!