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The return of 'Muggsy': Ex-Red Sox catcher Allenson begins second stint as Fisher Cats manager

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 19. 2017 1:31PM
Gary Allenson is shown during his first tour of duty as New Hampshire Fisher Cats manager in 2013. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER FILE)

  MANCHESTER — "Muggsy" is coming back to the Queen City.

Former Boston Red Sox catcher Gary Allenson is returning to Manchester this season for his second stint as manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

“I can’t wait to go back there because I really enjoyed my time in Manchester,” said Allenson, who managed the Fisher Cats in 2013. He left to manage Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo (2014-16) for the last three seasons.

This year, the Blue Jays made the decision of bringing Allenson back to manage the Fisher Cats while transferring Bobby Meacham, who spent the last three seasons in Manchester, to manage Buffalo.

“I knew I was coming back to Manchester at the end of last season,” said Allenson, who at age 61 will be entering his 23rd season minor league season as a manager. “I wouldn’t still be in this if I didn’t love it and I do love it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be in the majors, but that’s not my decision. Having said that, my wife and I were happy when we found out I was being sent to Manchester. We like the area a lot.”

This will be Allenson’s fifth straight year in the Toronto organization. In 2013, he managed the Fisher Cats to a 68-72 campaign, good for third place in the Eastern Division. At Buffalo, his teams were 77-66 in 2014, 68-76 in 2015 and 66-78 last season.

“Baseball is a business like anything else, but it’s always nice when you work with people you like,” said Allenson. “That’s the situation with Toronto. There’s good people in the organization that I like working with.”

The Blue Jays have teamed Allenson with returning pitching coach Vince Horsman, new hitting coach Ronnie Ortegon and new position player coach Andy Fermin.

“I know who they are, but have never worked with them,” said Allenson. “But that’s OK. We’ll see each other during spring training, discuss things about our players and team before making the trip together to Manchester. I’m not one of those guys that delves into someone else’s job. I’m managing the team, but each of us on the staff will have responsibilities to carry out on a daily basis.”

Allenson, who said he won’t know what his roster will look like until the team departs for Manchester in April, said managing players today is different from the days when he played for Boston (1979-84) and Toronto (1985).

“Today the game is way more sophisticated than when I played and there’s more instruction for players,” said Allenson. “It’s even different from my first year of managing when I didn’t have a pitching or hitting coach. Players today are going through nutrition programs, weight-lifting sessions, studying video and so on.”

The Blue Jays also announced Bob Tarpey will return for his eighth season as athletic trainer of the Fisher Cats and Brian Pike of Gorham will enter his ninth year as strength and conditioning coach.

Allenson has high praise for Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. “One of the best stadiums around the country for minor league baseball,” he said. “That stadium has character to it, the place draws well especially when Portland comes to town and the fans are pretty close to the field. Believe me, I like it when we’re playing in front of large crowds because the players feed off of it.”

Allenson has served seven years in the major league as a coach: three with Boston as a bullpen coach/third base coach (1992-94), three in Milwaukee as a base coach (2000-02) and one in Baltimore in 2010 as a third base coach.

“Gary has a proven track record of developing young talent, and we’re fortunate to have him back,” said Fisher Cats President Mike Ramshaw. “We’re excited to have Vince, Bob and Brian join us for another season, and we look forward to working with Ronnie and Andy for the first time.”

The Fisher Cats open their 2017 season at home on Thursday, April 6, against the renamed Binghamton Rumble Ponies, affiliate of the New York Mets.

Allenson was asked if this would be his last coaching job. “At this point in my life, I take a day-to-day approach,” he said. “I still enjoy managing, still love the game. When the day comes when I don’t have those feelings, I will know.”

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