Geoff Safford, Broadcast & Operations Assistant
When Takashi Miyoshi joined the Sonoma Stompers Baseball Club in 2015 as a bench coach, his role became much larger than anyone could have anticipated.
The Japanese born and Tokyo resident Miyoshi was brought in after spending time as a third base coach with the Texas Air Hogs in the American Association where he had the opportunity to be part of a championship team. But Miyoshi still sought out the opportunity to do what no other Japanese native had ever been given the chance to do in American professional baseball – a chance to manage.
In the middle of the 2015 season Miyoshi got his chance, and in his first full season as manager in 2016 he took his club to a Pacific Association Championship. The Stompers broke franchise records for the number of wins (47), and winning percentage (.603). Yoshi (as he’s called) also became the first manager in the history of the Pacific Association to lead a club to first half, and second half pennant in the same season. On Wednesday it was announced that Miyoshi was voted the Manager of the Year for the 2016 season.
“The Stompers have the most professional, hardest working, most dedicated manager in all of independent baseball – maybe beyond,” said Vice President and General Manager Theo Fightmaster. "We are so lucky to have a serious, smart, organized and open-minded person like Yoshi at the helm. He deserves this recognition, and I hope he soon earns a chance prove his worth at the next level,”
Yoshi became the first ever Japanese born manager in the history of American professional baseball when promoted in 2015. His home country of Japan is a baseball crazed nation and Miyoshi brought a dream of representing his country in its favorite game. He started his first full season as manager of the Stompers in 2016 with something to prove after falling just short of a title in 2015.
Unlike 2015, the 2016 Stompers played their best baseball in the final month of the season, and enjoyed the earliest title clinch in Pacific Association history.
For that, and other reasons, Miyoshi was recognized by managers, general managers, and broadcasters of the Pacific Association. Miyoshi’s name was on every ballot that was cast, and received double the amount of votes of the second place candidate (Vallejo Admirals Manager P.J. Phillips).
2016 Manager of the Year Voting Results
“I am extremely humbled to be named the Manager of the Year. I would like to thank the Stomper ownership, and my team,” Miyoshi said. “I would also like to thank Theo Fightmaster, Assistant General Manager Tim Livingston, my bench coach Chris Matthews, and our players. Lastly I would like to thank the fans who supported us all summer long, our great host families, and sponsors. Without all of you, I would not have been named named Manager of the Year. I won this award because of all of your support. Thanks for all the trust, love and support.”
Miyoshi lead a Stompers team that scored the most runs (485) and had the lowest team earned run average (4.01) of any team in the league. They also were tops in run differential as the Stompers scored 127 more run than their opponents (358). The next best run differential in the league was the Pacifics who allowed 15 more runs (417) than what they scored (402).
But the 2016 season was not always a walk in the park. After winning the first half pennant, Sonoma began the second half with a 7-10 mark, and fell five games behind a San Rafael team that gave the Stompers many problems in the first half. But the Stompers went on a pennant-clinching run in the month of August that culminated in them overtaking first place, and never looking back.
The Stompers finished with a remarkable 18-6 mark down the stretch, and scored over thirteen runs in six of those contests. That run included an eight-game winning streak against the defending Pacific Association Champion Pacifics.
The final two individual awards for the 2016 Pacific Association season will be announced on November 7, and November 9. On November 7, the winner of the Pitcher of the Year award will be announced. Finally on November 9 the winner of the league’s Most Valuable Player will be revealed.