By Chris Dugan
Bob Bozzuto is out as manager of the Wild Things and has been given a front office position with the Frontier League team.
Bozzuto, who was a member of the Wild Things’ coaching staff for 10 of the last 11 seasons, including the last 129 games as manager, resigned from his coaching job and was named Monday as the team’s administrative vice president.
“Personally, I needed a change,” Bozzuto admitted. “This way, I can have a little bit of summer.”
Bozzuto, a Greensburg resident who also is the athletic director at North Allegheny High School in Wexford, joined the Wild Things’ coaching staff in 2005. He became manager under a bizarre set of circumstances late in the 2014 season, after manager Bart Zeller unexpectedly resigned with the Wild Things in first place on July 6. Washington used a “coach-by-committee” before coach and former major leaguer Bob Didier resigned from the staff Aug. 2. Bozzuto was named manager later that day.
Bozzuto was able to steady the Wild Things through a rocky period and guided them to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. They won a wild-card playoff game at Evansville before losing to River City in the semifinals.
“I’m disappointed because one of my objectives was to bring a championship to Washington. The fans deserve it,” Bozzuto said. “Hopefully, I can do it in a different role.”
Bozzuto had a 58-68 record as manager. Washington was 42-54 this year and finished in fifth place in the seven-team East Division.
“With the addition of his tenure as field manager for the 2014 and 2015 teams and his experience as the athletic director for North Allegheny, Bob is the best possible adviser to assist us as we move our sports and entertainment venue (Consol Energy Park) into the future,” Wild Things managing partner Francine Williams said in a statement.
Bozzuto submitted his resignation as manager in October. He is not sure exactly what his new duties and responsibilities will entail. He will report directly to ownership.
“We’ve talked and we’ll meet this week and work out everything,” Bozzuto said. “There are a lot of things behind the scenes that have to improve. Nobody in the organization knows all the facets of being out on the road, the long bus rides and staying in lousy hotels. … I think I can be a good ambassador for baseball and the Wild Things.”
Bozzuto admitted the 100-mile trip that he would make from Greensburg to Wexford to Washington and back to Greensburg was taxing, but he will miss the grind.
“I tell people that I was excited about my job every time I made the drive up the hill to the ballpark because I never took it for granted,” Bozzuto said. “I always looked at it as a privilege. I will miss coaching, absolutely.
“The Washington Wild Things mean a great deal to me and my family. But they needed a change after 10 years. The organization needs some fresh ideas and a new outlook.”
Washington hasn’t announced a replacement for Bozzuto, though former Traverse City Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn has been rumored for weeks to be the Wild Things’ next manager. Langbehn spent five years in Traverse City before taking a job in 2014 as the Cleveland Indians’ replay coordinator.