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Ballpark Notes for Feb. 17, 2009

In today’s ballpark news, Wayne Terwillger returns for his 61st year in baseball, while Steve Shirley signs a three-year deal to stay as skipper of the Sioux Falls Canaries.In today’s ballpark news, Wayne Terwillger returns for his 61st year in baseball, while Steve Shirley signs a three-year deal to stay as skipper of the Sioux Falls Canaries.

The professional career that began in 1948 and includes over 7,000 games as a player, manager or coach will continue in 2009, as Wayne Terwilliger will return as first-base coach of the Fort Worth Cats (independent; American Association) for the 2009 season. It will be his 61st season in professional baseball and seventh year with the Cats. 

After eight years of managing in the minor leagues following his playing career, Twig joined manager Ted Williams on the Washington Senators’ coaching staff in 1969 before moving to Texas in 1972. He was also a member of the Rangers’ staff from 1981-86. He then was a member of the Minnesota Twins coaching staff, where he witnessed World Series championships in 1987 and 1991.

Terwilliger, 83, was the manager of the Cats from 2003-05. He was named the Central League’s 2005 Manager of the Year after leading the Cats to a franchise-best 60 wins. The team eventually won the championship that year, their first of three consecutive league titles.

He stepped down as manager following the 2005 season and joined manager Stan Hough‘s coaching staff two months later.

On June 27, 2005, Terwilliger turned 80 years old and joined the legendary Connie Mack as the only two 80-year-old managers in baseball history. When he took over the Cats in 2003, he became the oldest skipper in minor-league history.

In three years as the Fort Worth manager, Terwilliger compiled a 162-120 record and guided the team to three straight winning seasons. He was appointed Cats’ manager on Dec. 12, 2002 after spending the previous eight seasons as first base coach for the St. Paul Saints (independent; Northern League).

In somewhat of an unprecedented move, the Sioux Falls Canaries (independent; American Association) and Field Manager Steve Shirley have come to terms on a three-year contract extension, ensuring that the skipper will remain with the team through the 2012 season. In his first two years at the helm, Steve has led the Canaries to a 113-79 record with the club capturing their first league championship in 2008.

“Steve has brought consistently competitive baseball to Sioux Falls in a way that no other previous manager has,” said Canaries General Manager Matt Hansen of the only field general to lead the Canaries to back-to-back winning seasons. “We are blessed to have Steve not just for his on-field success, but for the way he represents our organization in the community. It is important to us to keep someone as talented as Steve in Sioux Falls for several seasons to come.”

Shirley was originally signed to a two-year contract in October of 2006. After Steve’s first season as manager brought the Canaries their first winning record since 2001, the Canaries extended the contract through this coming season. In 2008, Steve Shirley was named American Association Manager of the Year as he led the Canaries to a 60-36 record and their first playoff berth in seven seasons, a playoff berth that led to the team winning the American Association Championship with a 12-inning win over the Grand Prairie AirHogs on September 5.

“I am honored to have been embraced by the Canaries organization and the Sioux Falls community,” said Shirley. “In the years to come, I will continue to work hard to make sure that our organization represents the city of Sioux Falls and our surrounding communities in a positive way both on and off the field.”