Goldeyes’ new manager wants ‘to win with the right people’
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One characteristic stands above all for Greg Tagert when building a championship culture: winning with good people.
Tagert spoke with media via Zoom for the first time since being hired on Dec. 22 as the Winnipeg Goldeyes’ fourth manager in franchise history. He was joined by team owner Sam Katz and GM Andrew Collier.
“Just the highest regard for the organization, for the people,” Tagert began from his home in Fort Worth, Texas. “You know, one thing doing this type of job for a long time, is you learn over the years that second to the place, the ball park, the environment, is the people you work for, and that was the ultimate factor for me to come here.
“Certainly, I missed the independent side of things (while in the Arizona Complex League last season), but if it wasn’t the Winnipeg Goldeyes, I would be heading back to Scottsdale for spring training with the (San Francisco) Giants shortly.”
The 60-year-old manager comes north of the border for his 28th year in professional baseball, a career that includes leading rival Gary SouthShore RailCats from 2005-2021. Tagert owns an all-time managerial record of 1,265-1,117 (.531) and three titles (2005 and 2007 in the Northern League, 2013 in the American Association).
Tagert sported a dark blue Goldeyes hoodie on the video call, which he said was given to him by former club manager Rick Forney, who he considers to be his dearest friend in the industry, and the man he’s been tasked to succeed after 26 years and three championships.
The product of Vacaville, Calif., said this is the first time he’s taking over an established team with a championship pedigree.
“Before Rick — (Hal) Lanier. And before that, Doug Simunic. The pedigree of managers is outstanding there. Every manager gets asked (what their philosophy is), and if there’s a manager out there that doesn’t believe in good pitching and good defence and fundamentals and the occasional homers, he’ll be the first manager to say that,” he said.
“I think there won’t be too many differences. Certainly, we’ll provide a club that is entertaining and plays the game, hopefully, in a manner that the fans love to come see. And my goal is always to have a ball club that spends every amount of effort they have on the field, in terms of the way they approach the game and play it, and so those things I don’t think will change.”
One thing that could change is who Tagert values on his roster. While he said he has already spoke with reigning American Association MVP Max Murphy and other players from last year’s roster, the skipper is seeking individuals who have quality characteristics as people, not just as players.
“For me, it comes down to somebody who this is important to. A player that comes in and being a part of the organization, it’s important to me. It’s important to what we accomplish on the field — it’s important in the way he represents himself in the community, it’s important in the way he represents himself on the field,” Tagert said.
“I want that player that takes so much personal pride that it is of the utmost importance to him that only what he accomplishes, what that team accomplishes and how he represents himself.”
The Goldeyes will celebrate the club’s 30th year in 2023. Katz said the Goldeyes were “inundated” with applications for the manager position from the Atlantic and Frontier leagues, the American Association and even some from the Major League Baseball, but that Tagert was the ideal candidate to lead the organization heading into a milestone campaign.
“I had spent time with Greg and I knew he was with Major League Baseball at the time but I just thought I’d call him up,” Katz said. “You know, we talked briefly and he said, ‘I’m really happy with what I’m doing … and I really have no intention or interest in managing baseball again. And then he said, ‘But this is the Winnipeg Goldeyes,’ so I realized the door was open.”
“We didn’t rush things, we continued to communicate and I’m extremely elated that we have an individual who’s knowledgable, who has a great deal of credibility in the baseball community — extremely passionate and devoted — that we were able to get Greg Tagert to come and manage the Winnipeg Goldeyes.”
Tagert conceded one the biggest attractions for returning to independent baseball was the full command he would have on the diamond. He said nothing in baseball equates to the impact a manager can have on an independent organization.
“The attraction is to be able to sign and really hand pick the player that comes and plays with you. There’s nothing like it. It’s always been my goal to make sure the place I managed was certainly enjoyable. Culture is always predicated on the type of people, the type of human beings you have. It is of the utmost importance to me,” Tagert said.
“I love that accountability when you’re the manager, but the one thing that I tried never to sacrifice, is I only want to win with the right people. I truly mean that.”
Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.
Updated on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 7:47 PM CST: Typo fixed