(Bridgeport, CT – July 8, 2009) – Bridgeport Bluefish team officials today announced that Bluefish manager Tommy John has resigned from his position with the team. John is leaving the team to pursue a non-baseball position.
Bluefish bench coach Willie Upshaw will take over as manager for the rest of the 2009 campaign. Upshaw, the first manager in Bluefish history, spent three years in Bridgeport from 1998-2000. He was named Atlantic League Manager of the Year in 1998 after leading the team to a 64-36 record and managed the Bluefish to their lone championship the following season with a league-best 78-42 mark. After another successful year with the ‘Fish in 2000 he made his way back to the affiliated ranks with the Cleveland Indians and most recently the San Francisco Giants.
“We would like to thank Tommy for contributions to the Bluefish on and off the field,” says Bluefish owner/CEO Frank Boulton. “Tommy has had a tremendous presence in the community, and has been a consummate professional in the clubhouse. He had many bright moments at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
The former Major Leaguer pitched for 26 seasons from 1963 to 1989 including three 20-win seasons. Of eligible players, John is currently the winningest pitcher in Major League Baseball history not in the Hall of Fame. Tommy finished with a 3.34 ERA and 2,245 strikeouts in 760 games played.
He was selected to the Major League All-Star team four times and also finished second in the Cy Young Award balloting for both the 1977 and 1979 seasons. During his career, he won two World Series championships. John won the Hutch Award in 1975 for displaying honor, courage, and dedication to the game of baseball both on and off the field, and the National League Comeback Player of the Year award in 1976 after returning from surgery.
John retired from his playing career in 1989 after stints with the Indians, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, and Athletics. John joined the Bluefish in December of 2006 as the fifth manager in team history. He managed the team for two and a half seasons and led Bridgeport to a 159-176 overall record.
Upshaw’s Major League tenure spanned 10 seasons, nine of them with the Toronto Blue Jays. Originally selected in the fifth round of the 1975 free agent draft by the New York Yankees, he spent the first two years of his career in the minors before being chosen by the Blue Jays as part of the 1977 expansion draft. Willie would eventually make his Major League debut the following year on April 9 against the Detroit Tigers. In 1982, he became the Blue Jays regular first-baseman and led the team in home runs (21) and RBI (75). The following year he became the first Toronto player to top 100 RBI in a season with 104. Upshaw surpassed the 1,000 career hit mark in 1988, his final season in the Major Leagues, and finished his career with 1,103 hits, 123 home runs, 528 RBI and a .262 batting average.
Following a brief stint in Japan, Upshaw began his coaching career in 1991 as a hitting instructor in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. After two successful years in the minor leagues, he was on the fast track up the coaching chain after being named hitting coach for the Texas Rangers. Willie then returned to Toronto in 1995 where he would serve as hitting coach for the next three seasons. In 1998, the former Major-Leaguer would then make his way back home to Fairfield County, where he would become the first field manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish.
The Bridgeport Bluefish Professional Baseball Club, a charter team in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, plays its home games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, located off Exit 27 of I-95 on the corner of Broad Street and South Frontage Road in Bridgeport. 2009 season tickets, mini-plans, group outings and individual tickets are available by calling 203-345-4800. Visit the Bluefish online at www.bridgeportbluefish.com.