Published On: November 13th, 2018


Rockford, IL – In a homecoming of sorts, the first and only field manager of the Rockford Rivets has accepted the same position with the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Frontier League. Brian Smith will be leaving the Rivets after managing the franchise for their first three seasons.

Smith came to the Rivets in 2016, after being pitching coach in Windy City for three seasons.  He also played for the Joliet franchise in the Frontier League for two seasons prior to coaching.

While in Rockford, Smith managed the team to a 100-115 overall record.  In 2017 the team finished 39-33 earning a spot in the Northwoods League Playoffs.  The team lost 2-0 to the Battle Creek Bombers to end their playoff run.

One of the Smith’s biggest accomplishments was getting 13 players selected in the last two Major League Baseball drafts, including nine in the 2018 June draft.  This year’s draft included former University of Illinois outfielder Bren Spillane, who played for Smith and the Rivets in 2017.  Spillane, the Big Ten Player of the Year and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Year award winner was drafted in the 3rd round by the Cincinnati Reds.  “We have had a lot of talented kids come through Rockford over the last three summers.  Players like Bren and Hunter Hargrove (2017 Big 12 Player of the Year) came to Rockford to rejuvenate their baseball careers.  Players usually go back to school a much better player.”

“Brian was a huge asset in the development of college ballplayers both on and off the field as they aspire to be pro ballplayers“, said Chad Bauer, Rivets General Manager.  “When I interviewed Brian for the job, I knew I had a good baseball guy that I could trust to run the player side of the operation.  I wish him nothing but the best.”

Smith first came to the Northwoods League as a player in 2006 while playing for Northern Illinois University.  He played three summers for the Madison Mallards and coached a fourth, as an injury prevented him from playing.  “My time spent in the Northwoods, as a player, coach and manager, will always have a special place in my heart.  I have been flying Northwoods League First Class for over 10 years now and I cannot be more grateful.  I want to thank Dick and Chad for giving me this opportunity and trusting me with their franchise.  We hit it off from day one and have made Rockford into a place that can be trusted throughout the college baseball world.  I also have to thank the fans who came out night after night to support our boys.  Fans who came out may have seen, taken a picture with, gotten an autograph from or even hosted the next Chris Sale or Max Scherzer.  That is the Disney type feeling the Northwoods League gives every player, fan and host family.  From the bottom of my heart, Thank You!”

The Rivets will begin their 4th season in the Northwoods League in May of 2019.

The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 25-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, over 200 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIL). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

Latest News