Twenty-one years ago, on November 7, 1992, the next steps in a young managerial career and the birth of a franchise took place. The Marlins hired Fredi Gonzalez to run the Erie Sailors, one of their Minor League affiliates. The hire made him the first Minor League manager in Marlins' history.
Prior to being hired by the Marlins, Fredi Gonzalez had coaching experience as a graduate assistant coach for the University of Tennessee Volunteers. After that experience, he was then the manager of the Miami Miracle of the Florida State League. Both were great starting points to prepare him for his managerial development process that continued with his being hired for the Sailors' job.
While Fredi's coaching and managerial experience played an obvious role in his hiring, other factors can be traced to his time as a ballplayer. Prior to his coaching career, Fredi Gonzalez was a catcher and a local star that played baseball for the Miami Southridge Spartans - a high school program known for a no nonsense, blue collar style of play and a successful tradition. He spent those years learning under Miami legendary coaches, Fred Burnside and Steve Hertz. After graduating in 1982, Fredi's continued growth within the game came when he was drafted in June of that year by the New York Yankees, in the 16th round. He went on to play for several years in their minor league system and under respected baseball persons such as Carlos Tosca, Tommy Jones, and Bucky Dent. His experiences in the game, not just the leadership skills developed by catchers, but also through his playing and development within a quality high school program and then a quality franchise, prepared Fredi for his future as a manager.
In his stint as a Marlins minor league manager manager (1992-1998), Gonzalez had the chance to teach and develop many future Major Leaguers that would help the Marlins and/or other franchises in the upcoming years. Among them were the future All-Stars and 1997 World Series heroes Edgar Renteria, Livan Hernandez, and Charles Johnson; future All-Star and 2003 World Series hero Alex Gonzalez; future All-Stars Preston Wilson, Ryan Dempster, and Carl Everett; as well as players like MLB Network's Kevin Millar, current Marlins manager and member of the 2003 World Series Champion, Mike Redmond.
Also of key note, the hiring marked the beginning of Gonzalez's sizable history with the Marlins. Through his development and success within the organization, it allowed him to be noticed as a quality organizational leader. It eventually opened up the door for him to be hired as the Marlins manager in 2007 - a position that he held until the early part of the 2010 season and became the Marlins' managerial leader in wins.
In the end, the Marlins hiring Fredi Gonzalez as their first MiLB manager signified part of the birth of a franchise and the growth of a managerial career. We can remember this, twenty-one years later.