SAUGET — Mike Breyman has decided to leave the Gateway Grizzlies and his current role of hitting coach to become the manager of the Joliet Slammers in the Frontier League.
"This was a tough decision for me, but I want to be in this role (manager) and this change gives me the opportunity to do that," said Breyman, who becomes the second ever manger of the Slammers. "I want to thank the Grizzlies organization and especially Rich Sauget for giving me all these great years and allowing me to call Gateway home. It was a great ride."
Breyman, 31, spent seven years with the Gateway Grizzlies as a player or coach. He most recently served as the Grizzlies hitting coach during the 2012 season, helping lead the team to a 57-win season, a West Division title and the team's first playoff appearance since 2008. Under Breyman's direction, the Grizzlies finished second in the league in runs and displayed impressive improvements at the plate.
"There's no question Mike will be missed," Grizzlies manager Phil Warren remarked. "Mike and I have spent many years together as players and also as members of the coaching staff. He should make a positive impact to the Joliet organization."
A native of Attica, OH and current resident of Belleville, the father of two played for the Grizzlies from 2004-2008 and held the role of bench coach during the 2009 season. He was the hitting coach of the River City Rascals in 2010 and 2011.
During his playing career, Breyman was one of the most prolific hitters to ever wear the Gateway uniform. Upon his retirement as a player in 2008, Breyman held nearly every offensive record for the Grizzlies, including most hits, RBI and total bases. He also smacked 82 home runs over parts of five seasons with the Grizzlies.
"Mike was a great player for us and he has translated that success into being a great coach," Warren said. "He's knowledgeable about the game and now he gets a chance to translate those skills he has into managing."
Breyman enjoyed a record-setting high school career in Ohio, batting .810 during his senior season. That record still stands as the highest single season batting average in the history of high school baseball in the United States. Breyman carried that success into a great college career at the University of Kentucky and a stat-filled pro career with the Grizzlies.
Breyman will still call Belleville home during the offseason and he will continue to serve as the lead hitting instructor at the Grizzlies Baseball Academy.
"We are thrilled for Mike," Grizzlies general manager Steve Gomric commented. "We'll miss him in the four months during the summer, but we're happy to still have him at the Academy in the offseason. He has always wanted to manage and this is a tremendous opportunity. We'll miss Mike in a Grizzlies uniform, but his contributions will not be forgotten."
The Grizzlies 2013 home opener is on May 21, when they take on Breyman's Slammers at GCS Ballpark. Season and group tickets are on sale now. For more information call 618-337-3000.