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