Dave Brundage remembers his first visit to Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. At the time, Brundage was managing the Richmond Braves and the IronPigs were a fledgling organization in their first season.
"They had lost their first nine games and then it went to 12 before they beat us in their 13th game for their first win," recalls the 48-year old Brundage. "I wouldn't wish that sort of start on anyone, but the fans here were behind their team."
The passion that he felt from the Lehigh Valley fans that first visit and in every visit after that over five seasons was one factor in helping Brundage to make the decision to take the job with the Phillies Triple-A team.
"I've managed here in their games at 10:35 in the morning and at noon and two-o'clock, night games, it never mattered; the fans were passionate and behind their team," said Brundage.
Brundage takes over for Ryne Sandberg, who joins Charlie Manuel's staff in Philadelphia after two seasons at the helm of the 'Pigs. As players, the two were like night and day; Sandberg had a Hall of Fame career as a second baseman, while Brundage never did make the majors. One similarity is that the two were both drafted by the Phillies, with Sandberg being taken in the 20th round of the 1978 Draft and Brundage going in the fourth round of the 1986 Draft.
"I spent six years at Triple-A as a player and every year, I’d hear that I would be returning the next year and I’d think ‘how do you know? I might be in the majors next year.’ I never proved them wrong, but I always remember that," laughed Brundage.
The new Boss Hogg, as the name plate on the manager's door says, has talked to a few players who he may have on his Lehigh Valley roster, but isn't making any assumptions. Brundage has known hitting coach Sal Rende and is looking forward to working with him. As for pitching coach Ray Burriss, also new to Lehigh Valley, Brundage doesn't know him, but has spoken with him on the phone and looks forward to getting to know him.
"I expect a lot from my players, but I'm also willing to do all I can to prepare them and get them ready to make it to the majors," explained Brundage. "As a Triple-A manager, that's my job."
Brundage knows some of the top managers in baseball, including Lou Piniella, Mike Hargrove and Bobby Cox. He puts his style closest to that of Cox.
"Am I going to kick my hat and get suspended for four or five games? Probably not. I like to think that I’m more of a Bobby Cox kind of manager, because I learned so much from being around him. I believe in playing the game aggressive. My job is to get the most out of our players however I see fit; that’s my job."
Dave Brundage's managerial stats