Loggers Announce Return of Coaching Staff!
La Crosse, Wis. – The La Crosse Loggers Baseball Club announced today that they are thrilled to welcome back three members of their coaching staff for the upcoming 2021 season including field manager Brian Lewis returning for his sixth season at the helm. Lewis will be joined by long-time assistant, pitching coach Tom Kinney, as well as hitting coach Neal White.
In five seasons as the La Crosse skipper, Lewis has accumulated a 169-165 record (.506) following a 2020 season that saw the Lumbermen go 23-25 during the regular season before advancing to the WI-IL Pod Championship, eventually losing to the champion Fon Du Lac Dock Spiders. Lewis’ 169 victories rank second all-time on the Loggers managerial wins list, trailing only Andy McKay’s 206 wins that were achieved between the 2008-2012 seasons. The Alton, Illinois native will be entering his ninth season in the Loggers organization after serving as an assistant coach from 2013-15 aiding the Lumbermen to a 116-97 record (.545) and a 2015 Northwoods League playoff appearance.
Under Lewis’ guidance the last five seasons, La Crosse has produced 14 All-Northwoods League selections including Kobe Kato (Arizona) from the 2020 season as well as JT Schwartz (UCLA), Ryan Holgate (Arizona), and Jared Freilich (Penn State) from the 2019 campaign. The Loggers have continued to produce future professional talent at a record pace under Lewis’ guidance as two more alums were selected in the top four rounds of the five-round 2020 MLB Draft. 63 former Loggers had their name called during the 2017-2019 drafts.
Along with serving as the field manager of the Loggers, Lewis is enjoying his fifth season as the head coach of the Viterbo University (La Crosse) V-Hawks. Prior to joining the V-Hawks, Lewis served as the head coach of the La Crosse Central High School baseball program during the 2014-2015 school year. Before moving to the La Crosse area, Lewis was the hitting coach at Illinois Central College and an assistant coach at Lewis & Clark Community College from 2001-2011. Lewis also coached professionally in the Frontier League (Independent Professional) where he was director of baseball operations as well as the hitting coach for the River City Rascals from 2003-2006. Lewis’ summer collegiate experience dates back to the years 2001-2003 when he was the field manager for the Dubois County Bombers of the Prospect League. During his time in the coaching ranks, Lewis has coached four current and/or former major league players including Joe Thatcher, Cory Wade, Jeff Gray and Justin Christian.
Tom Kinney returns for his sixth season in La Crosse, leading the Loggers pitching staff once again in 2021. Loggers hurlers have amassed 2,436 strikeouts over the past five seasons under Kinney’s direction, including breaking the franchise single-season mark on two separate occasions in 2017 and 2018. Kinney has played a key role in the development of several Loggers pitchers who are now in professional baseball, listed by year below:
2018 – Christian Roa (2nd Round ‘20, Cincinnati), Ian Bedell (4th Round ’20, St. Louis), Ryan Anderson (12th Round ’19, New York-AL), Ted Stuka (14th Round ’19, Detroit), Eric Mock (25th Round ’19, Cleveland)
2017 – Grant Ford (5th Round ’19, Pittsburgh)
2016 – Nick Raquet (3rd Round ’17, Washington), Jack Ralston (7th Round ’19, St. Louis), Cason Sherrod (7th Round Pick ’18, Miami), Andrew Perez (8th Round ’18, Chicago-AL), Connor Wollersheim (8th Round ’19, New York-NL), Jonathan Teaney (20th Round ’17, Cleveland), Jared Liebelt (20th Round ’19, Arizona), Graham Spraker (31st Round ’17, Toronto), Randy Labaut (35th Round ’19, Cleveland)
Kinney grew up in Morton, Ill. and played at four different colleges including Olney Central College, Illinois Central College, Florida Atlantic University and Bradley University. After Bradley, he signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and went on to win the Rolaids Relief Award of the Arizona Rookie League in 1990. The following year he was converted to a starter in the South Atlantic League before being released later that year. Kinney then began a career in law enforcement and is a retired office from Aurora, Ill. After retirement from the police force, Kinney began coaching at Waubonsee Community College for three years and then moved on to Illinois Central College for three years. Tom has three sons (Thomas, Kyle and Chase).
Neal White returns for his second go-around in the Logger dugout, focusing on the Logger hitters. The Lumbermen ranked seventh in the NWL circuit in 2020 with 25 team home runs while recording 284 team walks and 109 stolen bases, both good enough for second in the entire league. White was instrumental in aiding all-NWL infielder Kobe Kato when he tallied 43 hits (12th best in the NWL), 33 RBI’s (6th best in the NWL) and drew a league-high 45 walks last summer.
White resides in Lancaster, CA and is in the midst of his third season as the head coach at the University of Antelope Valley (NAIA) after previously serving as an assistant for three seasons for the Pioneers. The Worcester, MA native is also an alumnus of the UAV baseball program. In 2016, he played a vital role in the Pioneers’ conference championship season starting in centerfield and leading off. White earned first-team all-conference honors in 2015 and was a NAIA scholar-athlete. Prior to coming to UAV, White attended Fresno State University. He has a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s in education.
The La Crosse Loggers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 27-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 245 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB All-Star Jordan Zimmermann (DET). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lacrosseloggers.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Loggers as your favorite team.