The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters have a new field manager. Team officials announced today that they have hired Emporia State University (Kansas) assistant coach John Martin to lead the 2011 team.
Martin has spent the past three seasons as the top assistant at Emporia State University, one of the elite NCAA Division II programs in the country. Emporia State is currently ranked in the top five in Division II baseball in the nation. He has worked closely with pitchers and catchers during his tenure at Emporia State, while also being heavily involved with the recruitment of student athletes.
Martin spent his last two summers with the Liberal Bee Jays of the Jayhawk Collegiate League, guiding the 2010 team to a National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series Championship and a 42-13 overall record as the team’s manager. He was honored for his efforts by being named the 2010 NBC Manager of the Year. The NBC brings in champions from various summer leagues in the country to determine a national champion each year.
In 2009 Martin coached for the Bee Jays under former Major League manager Mike Hargrove before taking over the reins as field manager last summer. Liberal finished third at the NBC World Series in 2009 while posting a 34-20 overall record that summer. The Jayhawk League is a wood bat, summer collegiate league in Kansas sanctioned by the NCAA, similar to the Northwoods League.
Martin spent three years as a member of the Emporia State Hornets squad and was the 2006 Roger Newell “Most Inspirational Player” Award Winner. During his senior season with the Hornets he hit .303 with 30 RBI and from his catcher position threw out 17 would be base stealers.
Following his senior season he was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 24th round of the June Major League Draft. He spent time with both the Gulf Coast Dodgers and the Ogden Raptors where he hit .256 with three RBI and an on-base percentage of .343. In 2008 he played with the Kansas City T-Bones of the Northern League where he hit .257 with three home runs and 30 RBI.
Martin is very familiar with the Northwoods League having spent the summers of 2004 and 2005 as a member of the Madison Mallards, where he helped lead Madison to a 2004 Northwoods League Championship. In 2005, he collected the game-winning hit against the Rochester Honkers to knock Rochester out of the South Division Playoff Series and advance the Mallards to the 2005 Northwoods League Championship Series. In a bit of irony, current Mallards field manager Greg Labbe was the manager of the Rochester Honkers that season. Labbe and the rest of the Madison Mallards are set to square off with Martin and the Rafters on June 1st, Opening Day at Historic Witter Field. It is sure to be an exciting match-up as the two field manager’s debut with their new teams.
"When we started the search for our new field manager we had a short list of requirements. We wanted someone that we had a personal relationship with, that understood what it takes to win in the Northwoods League, that had experience running a team, and that we knew would represent us and the city of Wisconsin Rapids well. John Martin brings all of these things to the table and much more. Wisconsin Rapids is going to love this guy,” commented Rafters Co-owner and President Vern Stenman.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to coach some very talented players in a town that really loves their baseball,” said new field manager John Martin. “I could not thank Vern and Liz enough for this opportunity and I promise I will do everything possible to make this summer successful.”