Miami Marlins Manager Mike Redmond Reminisces His Gonzaga Days
It was the 1990 season and Gonzaga University baseball was on the tail end of a weekend trip in Oregon. The Bulldogs had already swept a doubleheader against the University of Washington the day before and were down 10-2 in the backend of a doubleheader with Oregon State University. The Zags needed one more win for the perfect weekend when coach Steve Hertz made a declaration.
“Coach Hertz promised us a steak dinner if we could come back and win,” former Zag catcher and current Manager of the Miami Marlins, Mike Redmond shared. “I was catching the last game of the series and we were down big. Late in the game he made the offer and I ended up hitting the game winning grand slam as a freshman.”
The ball Redmond crushed flew out of the park into the parking lot in left field, where incidentally it hit one of the cars the Zags drove down to Corvallis with. Back then, the team drove to games instead of flying.
“We went home happy with the steaks from coach,” Redmond reflected. “It was definitely one of my all-time memories.”
Redmond, a Spokane native, is now the current manager of the Miami Marlins. He was introduced as the 13th manager of the organization Nov. 2.
"I am not surprised at all," current Gonzaga University baseball head coach Mark Machtolf who recruited and coached Redmond his first season at GU, said. "If you would have told me 15 years ago, then maybe I would be surprised. As his career unfolded and he showed interest in managing I knew he would succeed. He deserves this opportunity and will do great with it."
Despite the 3,000 miles that distance Redmond and his roots, his ties with Spokane and Gonzaga have never been tighter.
“I grew up in Spokane and I love this place,” Redmond explained. “All my friends are here and when I played through the minors and big leagues, I always looked forward to coming back. Honestly, it’s my style. Nobody besides my friends knows who I am in Spokane. I can live my life in the offseason and I love it.”
Redmond played for the Zags from 1990-93 along with his twin brother Pat. At the time, the baseball program was a member of the Pacific-10 Conference.
“Obviously having the opportunity coming out of Gonzaga Prep to play at Gonzaga was great,” Redmond said. “I was recruited by a couple of other schools, but I really wanted to be a Bulldog. For me, it was a great opportunity and I hoped I would have a chance to play as a freshman. I am not sure I could have got that any other place.
“Also, going to Gonzaga and playing with my brother Pat was special. We were very fortunate to go through that experience together and I will never forget it. I got a lot of playing time and was fortunate enough to move on and make the big leagues,” Redmond stated.
Redmond excelled in a Bulldog uniform and was named first-team all-conference for Gonzaga in 1991 and 1992. Players gravitated towards him and he was a leader for the program. Even with all the success on the field, Redmond appreciates what he received off of it.
“My education was important,” Redmond said. “I probably was not the best student but I worked hard at it. The coaches and everyone were always on us to go to class. The school has such a great reputation in the Northwest and I feel lucky to be a part of that in the classroom.”
As Redmond progressed in the majors, so was Gonzaga University’s name. During his 13 seasons as a player, including a World Series championship in 2003 with the Marlins, he often donned his Gonzaga shirts.
“People ask me about Gonzaga because I wear my shirts,” Redmond confessed. “My first few years as a player, people would ask me where Gonzaga was. I would have to explain to them where Spokane was located. People tell me GU has a heck of a basketball team, but I always remind them that it has a great baseball program too.”
Redmond also played professionally for the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. The right-handed hitter finished his career with a .287 batting average and recorded 4,003 putouts, 308 assists with only 18 errors. Even with the demands of playing pro ball, he made an effort to attend alumni baseball games and came back to hit on campus before spring training.
“I only missed one or two,” Redmond said. “Those were only because my team was in the playoffs or World Series. I came back because I love the Gonzaga family. I have so many great friends I made through the school with guys I played with and guys I didn’t play with. I love coming back.”
After his days as a player were over, Redmond was a natural fit to manage. In 2011 he became the manager of Toronto's Class A Dunedin squad. He compiled a 155-115 record (.574) in his two seasons as a Minor League manager. Redmond was also named 2011 Midwest League Manager of the Year.
In 2012, he managed Dunedin to the Florida State League playoffs where his Blue Jays would lose to eventual-champion Lakeland. Shortly after the Miami Marlins job opened, and in short order, Redmond was announced to be taking over the revamped and young roster. Considered a players manager there is little concern he will not be successful, just like when he stepped into the box against Oregon State 23-years ago.
“It was not only baseball the made Gonzaga special,” Redmond said. “It is the family and community. It’s hard to describe that to people outside the university. But if you go there, you feel it and understand. That’s what I love the most.”
The Marlins, with Redmon at the helm, open the 2013 MLB season Monday at 10:05 a.m. PT, when they visit the Washington Nationals.