Former greats to manage Futures Game
Jenkins, Carter to lead star prospects on All-Star Sunday
The roster of Futures Game managers previously included seven Hall of Famers who won four Cy Young Awards, four Rookies of the Year, two MVPs and former players who were named to a grand total of 108 All-Star teams.
This year's skippers will do nothing to diminish that collective resume. Manning the dugouts of this year's XM Satellite All-Star Futures Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on July 9, will be Gary Carter and Ferguson Jenkins.
Carter and Jenkins have two Hall of Fame plaques a Cy Young Award and 14 All-Star Game nods between them. And while being chosen to man the dugout in the Futures Game is by and large an honorary position, both of this year's legends have had aspirations of having the same job in a big-league dugout.
Jenkins, who was born in Ontario, follows former All-Stars Fernando Valenzuela, Dave Concepcion and fellow Cooperstown honoree Tony Perez to lead the World dugout. Jenkins spent 19 years in the big leagues and amassed 284 wins to go along with a 3.34 career ERA. He won 20 games in six consecutive seasons and was named the 1971 National League Cy Young Award winner when he went 24-13 with a 2.77 ERA in 325 innings for the Cubs, a total most Minor League pitchers in today's game probably wouldn't believe.
"I've had some very good coaching, guys like Leo Durocher and Billy Martin," said Jenkins, a 1991 inductee into the Hall of Fame who has logged some time as a Minor League pitching coach. "This will be an important part of it. And it will be fun seeing what these young men are capable of doing."
If last year was any indication, Jenkins will have some young men capable of quite a lot in his dugout. The World team blanked the United States squad, 4-0, in Detroit last year thanks largely to a number of pitchers who could crank it up into the upper 90s. The U.S., though, has a 4-3 edge in the Minor League All-Star exhibition that was created in 1999.
Carter undoubtedly will be trying to add to that edge for the U.S. The 2003 Hall of Fame inductee hit 324 homers in his 19-year career and knows a little something about All-Star success, winning two All-Star Game MVP awards.
"I'm very excited," Carter said. "To be asked to be a manager for some of the great prospects in the Minor Leagues is a tremendous honor. I'm very much looking forward to meeting up with the kids and looking forward to managing the game. I don't know how much the manager is a part of trying to win, but I will do my best to make sure the good ol' U.S. of A. comes out on top."
Carter currently manages the St. Lucie Mets in the advanced Class A Florida State League. They lead the East Division heading into the final week of the first half of the season. Last year, Carter piloted the Gulf Coast League Mets to the GCL championship series. His presence in the Minors serves as a reminder to his players what the ultimate prize is like, and Carter understands the Futures Game should serve as a similar motivator.
"The carrot at the end of the string is if you know what it's like at the Major League level -- and they'll get a taste of it at PNC Park -- that's what it's all about," Carter said. "There's no other better place to play. If you continue to work hard, play hard, do the little things, the opportunity will exist for you. This is what baseball is all about."
This particular game is all about rewarding the top prospects in the game for being the best in the Minor Leagues, showing them what lies ahead and giving them an opportunity to showcase their skills to a larger audience than they've been exposed to while playing down on the farm.
"I think that's the No. 1 factor," Jenkins said. "These young men need exposure. This is their way of showing their talents to the world. Maybe these young men will be in the big leagues in a year or so. It's important for them to play well."
While the focus will deservedly be on the players on the field, Jenkins and Carter obviously will garner a fair amount of attention. While that's good for the Futures Game in general, it should be pointed out that the pair does have a history, though Carter is sure it won't cause any problems on All-Star Sunday.
"I didn't face Fergie at the height of his career, but I do remember one incident," Carter recalled. "I hit a home run off of him at Wrigley Field. In my next at-bat, he hit me. In the old school, that's the way things were done. He had so many consecutive 20-win seasons on some not very good Cub teams. He had to learn how to pitch, especially in Wrigley Field.
"He's one of the greatest gentlemen in this game of baseball. We've become friends over the years. We're going to have a nice friendly game. It'll be a pleasure being in the dugout facing him. May the best team win."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.