South Jersey Baseball:
Thursday, July 8, 2004
By Bill Cook
The Eastern League and the Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, announced today that Stump Merrill has been named as the Manager and Gary Lavelle has been named as the pitching coach for the Northern Division Team and for the Eastern League All-Star game to be held on Wednesday, July 14th at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, MD.
Merrill, replaces Binghamton Mets manager Ken Oberkfell, who is unable to attend due to his obligations as a coach for the New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game to be played on Sunday, July 11th at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
Merrill, 59, is in his 28th season with the Yankees organization. This season, Merrill’s seventh with a Yankees’ affiliate in the Eastern League, he recorded his 400th career Eastern League victory. In 2003, Merrill recorded his 1500th career win as a Manager. He has led Yankees Minor League teams at all levels of their system, including a season and a half as the skipper of the New York Yankees (’90 & ’91). He currently has the Thunder in fourth place in the E.L. Northern Division with a 41-43 record. Merrill led Trenton to a 70-71 record last season and had the team in the hunt for a playoff spot until the last week of the campaign.
Lavelle, 55, is in his second season with the Thunder. Lavelle’s current staff is tied for first in the league for fewest home runs allowed (54), third in most strikeouts (619) and tied for third in shutouts (6). In 2002, he was pitching coach for the Norwich Navigators which had the second best ERA in the Eastern League at 3.58. His pitching staff was first in the league in complete games (14), fewest home runs allowed (70) and fewest walks allowed (384). Prior to being promoted to Norwich, Lavelle spent two seasons at Single-A Greensboro. Before joining the Yankees organization, Lavelle spent 11 seasons as coach of the Greenbrier Christian Academy varsity baseball team in Chesapeake, VA. His team won seven state championships during that time and he was named Virginia State Coach-of-the-Year seven times.
“We are happy to have Stump and Gary representing us and the Yankees at the All-Star game,” said Thunder General Manager Rick Brenner.
Merrill will manage four members of the Thunder at the All-Star game. RHP Javier Ortiz, RHP David Shepard, OF Mitch Jones and IF Aaron Rifkin have all been selected to the Northern Division squad.
The Thunder begin a three-game series against the Norwich Navigators, San Francisco’s Double-A affiliate, tomorrow at 7:05 PM.
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