John Harris found the Sox fit him better, and the Clovis Pioneers are looking for a new manager four months before their professional baseball debut.
Harris, a 1973 graduate of Clovis High School, was named Wednesday as the manager of the Amarillo Sox, who will play in the American Association this season.
The Pioneers, who are taking part in the six-team Pecos League, had originally hired Harris to manage their inaugural season, scheduled to open the season May 10 against Roswell at Bell Park.
Pecos League commissioner Andrew Dunn said Harris had been upfront throughout the hiring process, and he’s been looking for managers in the event that Harris left.
“Before he ever accepted the Clovis job, John told me there was a lot of uncertainty in Amarillo,” Dunn said. “John thought the manager, Brady Bogart, was going to return to the association. When he didn’t, John became one of the frontrunners.”
And when he got the offer to coach the Sox, it was a no-brainer to Harris.
“I hate to leave, but I couldn’t turn it down,” Harris said. “It’s one of the best independent jobs out there.”
There’s the familiarity, as Harris took the Dillas to the 2003 Central Baseball League championship series, and was an assistant manager last year. And then there’s the certainty of the American Association, and a salary cap of up to $28,500 monthly for a 22-player roster, against a new baseball league and lower player salaries.
Harris had said at a previous meet-and-greet that player salaries could be in the range of $400 monthly.
The Sox were formerly known as the Amarillo Dillas and were scooped up by the American Association after the previous Dillas ownership group failed to pay rent at Potter County Memorial Stadium (now known as Amarillo National Bank Sox Stadium).
Dunn said in the short term the Pioneers take a hit, but it’s a long-term benefit because there’s a greater chance for exhibition games with American Association clubs and for player movement between the leagues.
“I’ll send every player I can there,” Harris said of the Pioneers. “That’s my hometown, and I want it to work.”
Dunn said the Pioneers, who do not have a general manager, will need a manager who can build a ballclub and help with first-year tasks. Other Pecos League Clubs include the Roswell Invaders, Carlsbad , Whitesands (Alamogordo) Pupfish, Las Cruces Vaqueros and Alpine Cowboys.
One benefit, Dunn said, is there are good candidates to be interviewed.
“We had a lot of people try to get the Carlsbad job; when we filled it, we thought that was it,” Dunn said. “There aren’t a lot of jobs. Teams are contracting across the country.
“We’re looking for a certain person. We haven’t found them yet.”