Mills Field was where Jeff Cammann and the Waterloo Bucks defeated the Brainerd Mighty Gulls to capture the 2002 Northwoods League championship.
Cammann hopes that scene replays itself following the 2008 season since he's now the field manager of the Brainerd Blue Thunder.
Jason Huskey, who managed the Blue Thunder the last two seasons, is now the franchise's director of operations. He was a coach with the Mighty Gulls when Cammann and the Bucks won the title.
When Huskey called Cammann early this year to see if he would be interested in the Brainerd job Cammann didn't hesitate.
"I have good memories of this place and I jumped at the opportunity, especially since its my first head coaching experience," Cammann said Tuesday. "In one of the best summer leagues in the nation that's a job you would kill for.
Blue Thunder first baseman Jared McDonald made a sliding catch on a pop-up bunt June 26 in a game against the LaCrosse Loggers at Mills Field. The Blue Thunder open the season Thursday at home. Brainerd Dispatch » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"I feel very privileged that he would think of me. Jason and (owners) Skip and Pam Marr, I appreciate everything they've done for me."
Cammann, who coaches at Cochise Junior College in Arizona during the spring, and the Blue Thunder are scheduled to make their season debut Thursday night at Mills Field against the St. Cloud River Bats. The 25-year-old manager will start right-hander Kris Jiggitts, who was 3-5 with a 2.82 ERA for Brainerd last season.
Jiggitts is one of three players scheduled to return this summer. Jared McDonald, who hit .246 with 12 RBIs last season, will be back when his season ends at Pima Community College in Arizona.
Also scheduled back is right-hander Bryan Evans of California-Davis, who was 2-4 with a 4.46 ERA last summer.
After only one workout (Memorial Day) Cammann obviously isn't sure what kind of team has been assembled.
"Nobody looks overmatched, I'll put it that way," he said.
Cammann played at Cochise Junior College and finished his playing career at Eastern Illinois University and Emporia State University in Kansas.
He later played two summers for Waterloo.
His coaching resume includes Madison, Wis., in 2004 where the Mallards won the Northwoods championship. The last two summers he coached in Fayetteville, N.C., in the Coastal Plains League where the team set a league record for wins.
Cammann was tutored as a player, and later as an assistant coach, by Darryl Handelsman, who has the most career victories and the most postseason wins in Northwoods' history.
"I think I have a good grasp of what to expect and how I would like to run my team," Cammann said. "I want to be active, try to put a lot of pressure on the defense, run a lot, hit and run a lot, probably try and steal home a couple times, things that are fun to watch - that style of coaching. It's fun to coach that way as well."
Who: Brainerd Blue Thunder vs. St. Cloud River Bats
Where: Mills Field, Brainerd
When: 6:35 p.m. Thursday
Ticket information: (218) 838-2160
Web site: www.brainerdbluethunder.com
"All I want my guys to do is go out there and receive the ultimate compliment. That's the other coach coming up to me and telling me, 'Your guys play hard.' If you get that every night you're going to win a lot of games."
Brandon Bailey, who coaches with Cammann at Cochise, will be the Blue Thunder's pitching coach.
"He might have to be a little bit of a magician the first week, week and a half," Cammann said. "He does a very good job with the pitchers. I have all the confidence in the world he will be able to piece that together because the pitching aspect, that's his job, that's why he's here. He will do a good job.
"I have confidence in our pitchers to give us six or seven innings every start. If we can do that we will be pretty good."
Blue Thunder roster
Name, position, bats, throws, height, weight, hometown, year
Mitch Caster, OF, P, R-R, 6- 2, 180, Goddard, KS, FR-Wichita State University
Nick DeBiasse, IF, R-R, 6-2, 225, Lawrence, KS, FR-Rice University
Bryan Evans, P, R-R, 6-3, 205, Tesoro, Calif., JR-UC Davis
Scott Foley, P, R-R, 6-2, 185, Tinley Park, IL, SO-Eastern Illinois University
Greg Garcia, IF, L-R, 6-0, 170, Poway, CA, FR-University of Hawaii
Michael Gedman, IF, L-L, 6-4, 215, Farmington, MA, SO-University of Massachusetts
Casey Geiger, P, R-R, 6-2, 170, Albion, IN, SO-Southern Indiana
Matt Gottwalt, P, R-R, 6-0, 185, Royalton, FR-Valley City State Univ.
Codi Harshman, OF, R-R, 6-2, 190, Tucson, AZ, SO-Pima Community College
Kori Jensen, IF, P, R-R, 5-10, 190, Wichita, KS, JR,-Bradley University
Kris Jiggitts, P, R-R, 6-0, 210, Aurora, CO, JR- Tennessee Wesleyan
Alex Kalgorides, P, R-R, 6-1, 195, San Jose, CA, SO-University of San Francisco
Paul Krebs, UT, R-R, 5-7, 170, Little Falls, JR-Minnesota Crookston
Troy Landi, OF, R-R, 6-1, 180, Blue Springs, MO, JR-Missouri Western
Joe Lincoln, C, R-R, 6-4, 225, Clarksburg, MO, FR-Maple Woods JC
Jeff Lockwood, P-1B, L-L, 5-11, 205, Knoxville, TN, SO-University of Tennessee
Trey Lucas, C, R-R, 6-1, 200, Knoxville, TN, SO-Austin Peay University
Michael Lueck, P, R-R, 5-11, 180, Victoria, MN, JR-University of North Dakota
John Prato Matthews, OF-P, R-R, 6-6, 230, Davis, CA, FR-Trinity University
Jared McDonald, IF, L-R, 6-1, 190, Tucson, AZ, SO-Pima Community College
Michael McGuire, OF, R-R, 6-1, 215, Farmington, CT, JR-St. Peters University
Spencer Parish, P, R-L, 6-0, 177, The Woodlands, TX, FR-Sam Houston State
Adam Pettersen, IF, R-R, 5-9, 160, Minneapolis, FR-University of Minnesota
Curtis Restko, OF, R-R, 5-11, 180, Tinley Park, IL, SO-Eastern Illinois University
Jonathon Schmidt, IF-OF, R-R, 6-4, 215, Chesterfield, MO, FR-University of Missouri
Kyle Sisney, IF, S-R, 5-10, 180, Broken Arrow, OK, FR-Wichita State University
Darryl Stringfield, P, L-R, 6-5, 200, Wakefield, VA, SO-Virginia Commonwealth
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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