Thursday, November 01, 2007

After eight seasons, face of franchise leaving Pride managerial post

NASHUA – The Nashua Pride are certainly coming back for the 2008 season, but Butch won't be. Speaking from his Bakersfield, Calif., home on Wednesday, longtime Pride manager Butch Hobson acknowledged that he will not be back for his ninth season in Nashua. Instead he will be taking over as manager of an undisclosed team in the Atlantic League, a league the Pride played in before joining the Can-Am League in 2006.

Despite all his success here – Hobson has an overall record of 514-458 (.529) with two championships, six playoff appearances and four finals appearances in eight years – his status has always been in doubt for various reasons. He had officially resigned following the 2003 season before changing his mind and returning after a few weeks later.

He had to reach an agreement with new ownership groups in both 2005 and 2006. When the Pride announced they were joining the young player-oriented Can-Am League two years ago, Hobson initially balked before signing a three-year deal. But this time, it's for real. The 56-year-old Hobson, 63 days shy of attaining a full major-league pension, feels managing in the Atlantic League will get him back on a major league coaching staff someday. Because of the previous uncertain future of the franchise after it swept the now-defunct North Shore Spirit for the Can-Am crown in mid-September, Pride owner John Stabile allowed Hobson to field offers from other or organizations despite having a year remaining on his contract.

Teams came calling, and Hobson is being offered a package that Stabile – who is trying to make the Pride fiscally viable after announcing last week the franchise would return – can't match. But that may not matter.

"It's time to move on," Hobson said. "I've decided that (getting back to the majors) is what I want. I've been dickering here and there, but (managing) is all I know, it's what I do and I think I'm pretty good at it. I think I'm going to have to go back to the Atlantic League to get back with an (affiliated) organization in some capacity."

The Pride have held off on any official announcement in deference to Hobson's negotiations with his new team. "Butch and I are working out the details of the final year remaining on his contract," Stabile said. "There are some details to be ironed out, and we're hoping to announce something in the near future."

Hobson said the move was bittersweet. As a former Red Sox third baseman and manager, he immediately became the face of the franchise when hired by then-Pride owner Chris English in December 1999. After living in Vermont, he eventually moved to Nashua, where he lived until his family moved to California in July 2006. A few days ago he sat down to write a good-bye to the fans of Nashua, something the Pride are expected to include in a release or newspaper advertisement.

"It's very, very tough," Hobson said of his expected job change. "When I sat down to write what I wanted to say, it was real tough." The team had conversations with Hobson about putting together a day in his honor and for him to officially say good-bye to Pride fans, but nothing's been worked out.

"I hope I could do that, but I really don't know," Hobson said. When he took the steps of City Hall in celebration of his second championship earlier in the fall, Hobson seemed to sense the end was near. He said he didn't know what to expect when he first took the job, but he also didn't expect to be here through eight seasons. "No, I didn't," he said. "But it was a wonderful eight years."

You gotta admit,as crazy as he was he was a damn good manager. Nashua could possibly have a hard time finding a manger as good & dedicated as Butch. As we read this let's remember the good times we had with Butch....


Anonymous said...

A previous Tom King article said that Mr. Stabile announced that he is in for 2008 from Florida, where the NAWBL women's baseball league is entered in the annual "national championship" tournament. I hope and expect this means he is also in to keep sponsoring the NAWBL at Holman (and perhaps sometimes at Fraser, as in 2007--a lot of the players are from the Boston area).

The Pride announcement, coming at the extended league deadline, disclosed that they haven't met their goal in selling season tickets (as opposed to the free season gate pass that we who attended Game 2 got). King's column called on the mayor and governor to lean on local businesses, some of which have rebuffed Pride salespeople. Some of whom may believe that people with free passes are not a guaranteed audience for between-innings advertising.

I'll be at 40+ Pride games again (hope you all will become noisy repeat customers!), and would even pay $3 a game to upgrade to reserve seat 202-T-2 as usual. But not for all the games before the season starts (though I haven't been called). I wouldn't marry this franchise without a very long pre-nup.


DaveCo said...

I wish the Pride luck in reaching their goal....and hope the Nashua area doesn't make a mistake in letting this team go.

I would love to become a "noisy repeat customer" next season....I just need rides XD
The Pride are now my favorite team in the league,followed by Worcester.

Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

Florida State 27, Boston College 17

Looks like your New Year's Day just opened up, boys!

# # #

Back on topic, a few questions for the offseason...

Does anyone else get the feeling that the Nashua Pride are NOT a done deal for '08?
The continual boosterism of the Nashua newspaper is just, um, telegraphing that all is not well.

Does anyone else feel that the only reason Nashua got the waiver is that they won the championship? I also suspect that Sussex, a.k.a. The North Jersey Spirit, survives because of its dual ownership, but New Haven seems to have asked for it and was rebuffed, which is only fair because, really, how many times does Jonathan Fleisig have to fail before folks realize he's an idiot?

Is it also depressing to realize that the CanAm seems to be dependent on failure for its future? As I posted on my sad little blog, if you look at the past four years, it's gotten two franchises by Atlantic League castoffs and two by failed affiliates. Now it seems to be hoping for either Bridgeport or Norwich to come calling in '09. The Bluefish were dead last in league attendance and the Defenders' Giants affiliation is up after 2008. Both cities have relatively new facilities, though the Defenders have a Clancy-like relationship with Norwich, which is playing hardball because it's holding a lease through '12.

Speaking of facilities, is not troubling that only one state-of-the-art stadium has been built for this league (sorry, Worcester, that's a glorified h.s. field, not much better than McKenzie Field in Holyoke)?
Contrast that to the Atlantic League, which has had new facilities built for every current franchise.

The indys are essentially having their winter meetings in Charleston, SC this week at the Mike "Yep, my Dad was Bill and I won't ever let you forget that" Veeck's "Fun Is Good" conference, so perhaps there will be some news coming out of there (probably not, but we can hope).

icesk8ingtrezzafan said...

I like Butch Hobson & feel bad he's leaving. Hre gave me a game ball at a Spirit game and he was so funny when he took the base into the bleachers. I will miss the Spirit the most though. I hope teams don't keep leaving CanAm League.
I have an idea that might sound crazy but has anyone ever seen the Lynn Christmas Paarde? It's really cool & we always have a small party after the papade. Well I was thinking it might be reaaly awesome if LynnCam, Fraser Faithful & some fans can be in the parade this year. It's christmas Eve. We can do something to thank the Spirit for 5 years of fun & good baseball then come to my house after. What do you guys think? Grandma said it's okay

Joe Grav said...

Actually, New Year's Day was never in question; now it's Jan. 3 I'm worried about instead of Jan. 7

Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

Assuming, of course, that BC can both win at Clemson and in Jacksonville.

PS: "New Year's Day Plans" is an expression that refers to the pre-BCS days. Guess I'm showing my age -- or I forgot yours! They say memory is the 2nd thing to go....

Joe Grav said...

Well, you can never assume wins anywhere (especially at Clemson), but that's the goal...

And yes, I know the reference, I was just trying to be a wise ass.