Written By Winston-Salem Dash
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- For the second time in three seasons, Tommy Thompson will lead the Winston-Salem Dash in 2014, the Chicago White Sox announced Tuesday afternoon. Pitching coach J.R. Perdew, hitting coach Gary Ward, athletic trainer Josh Fallin and strength and conditioning coach Raymond Smith join Thompson on the Dash's field staff.
Thompson managed Winston-Salem to one of the franchise's best seasons in 2012. He guided the Dash to full-season Minor League Baseball's best regular season record (87-51-1) and the Mills Cup Championship Series en route to the Carolina League's Manager of the Year award. Only the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals have won more games in the franchise's 110-year history than the 2012 squad.
"I am really looking forward to returning to Winston-Salem," Thompson said. "We had a great season in 2012. I don't know if we can repeat that, but we are looking for some big things out of our young players."
Last season, Thompson was the manager for the Low-A Kannapolis Intimidators, a club that finished with a 61-76 record. In seven seasons as a minor league manager, he owns a record of 451-456 (.497).
Born in Oklahoma City, Okla., Thompson spent 10 years as a minor league player. The Atlanta Braves drafted him in the 28th round of the 1979 MLB Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. Following seven seasons with Atlanta's organization, Thompson signed with the White Sox as a free agent and spent three years with Chicago's Triple-A affiliate prior to beginning his coaching career in the midst of the 1988 season.
Thompson's first managerial job came with short-season Utica in 1990, and he advanced to Low-A South Bend in 1991. From 1992-2005, Thompson was the White Sox Catching Coordinator. Following a year away from baseball, Thompson joined Baltimore's organization and led High-A Frederick in 2007 and 2008. In 2010, he returned to the White Sox as a Roving Coaching Assistant. One year later, he managed Low-A Kannapolis.
Both Perdew and Ward were also with Thompson during the 2012 season, and the duo will be in the Winston-Salem dugout once again in 2014. This trio propelled the Carolina League past the California League in the annual All-Star Game between the two circuits at BB&T Ballpark on June 19, 2012.
This will be Perdew's eighth season as a pitching coach in Winston, and his third consecutive assignment with the Dash. Last season, the Cumberland, Md., native helped Chris Bassitt and Chris Beck become Carolina League All-Stars. The former U.S. Marine has been a pitching coach in the White Sox system since 1997. He pitched at George Mason University and signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent.
Ward comes back to the Triad after a one-year run as Double-A Birmingham's hitting coach. Under Ward's tutelage, the Barons won the Southern League title. The Riverside, Calif., native also acted as the Dash's hitting coach in 2011 and 2012. He played in the majors for 12 seasons and hit .276 with 130 home runs and 597 RBIs in 1,287 games, and he earned a spot on the American League All-Star Team in 1983 and 1985. Ward also reached "The Show" as the White Sox hitting coach from 2001-03.
"Tommy, J.R. and Gary gave our community a season to remember in 2012," Dash President Geoff Lassiter said. "We are fortunate to have this coaching staff here in Winston-Salem for 2014. They will work as hard as they can to help the Dash win baseball games and develop future members of the White Sox."
Fallin and Smith round out the Dash's field staff for 2014. Fallin is back for a second straight campaign with the Dash. He also spent 10 years as the head trainer in Winston-Salem from 2001-10, a run that preceded two seasons with Double-A Birmingham. The Lewisville resident has won three Trainer of the Year honors in his career, with two of them coming in the Carolina League (2005 and 2007).
Smith is also making a return trip to the Triad after spending two seasons as the strength and conditioning coach with the Warthogs in 2006 and 2007. Since then, the Appalachian State University product logged five seasons in Double-A Birmingham (2008-12) and one in Triple-A Charlotte (2013). Smith was born in Winston-Salem.
Three members of the Dash's 2013 field staff have been placed elsewhere in the organization. Manager Ryan Newman has jumped to Triple-A Charlotte as an assistant coach under skipper Joel Skinner. Hitting coach Rob Sasser and strength and conditioning coach Tim Rodmaker will hold the same role with Low-A Kannapolis and rookie-level Great Falls, respectively.
The Dash begin their fifth season at BB&T Ballpark on Thursday, April 3, against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Ticket packages are on sale now, and fans can call (336) 714-2287 to purchase their tickets today.