Professional baseball: Brett Butler speaks at Reno Aces’ ‘Meet the Manager Dinner’
Sun News Service
RENO ” Brett Butler has conquered cancer ” twice ” and now the former major leaguer is ready to smack another home run as the Reno Aces’ new skipper.
“Other than surviving the earthquake of 1989, I think it was the 23 steps from the dugout to home plate after I had throat cancer and the doctors said that I would never play again,” Butler said of his best moment, as a Dodger, before a crowd of 400 at the Aces’ “Meet the Manager Dinner” Wednesday at the Reno Ballroom.
“The character of a person doesn’t come out when things are going good. The character of a person comes out when things are going bad and how you react to them. My family has gotten me through that (throat and prostate cancer). As a community you have warmed my heart. We’ve been here for one, two days, and you make us feel like family.”
Family and community support, especially in a time plagued by recession woes, was the main focus to making Reno’s new Triple-A baseball team the premium hot spot for sports in Northern Nevada. From the groundbreaking ceremony in February to Wednesday’s tour of the new downtown stadium and dinner, professional baseball is back in Reno.
“The Reno Aces are coming,” Pacific Coast League President Branch Rickey III said. “You better believe it. It’s a special moment for your community. It’s a special experience and it’s around the corner.”
The Aces, which begin their inaugural season in April, are Reno’s first-ever Triple-A franchise and are part of the Diamondbacks’ organization. Although the majority of baseball fans in the area root for the Bay Area teams or the Dodgers, both Rickey and Aces General Manager Rick Parr reemphasized that the experience and atmosphere of minor league baseball can bring fun and excitement to people of all ages.
“It’s fun when you see a big leaguer come down and see what you have … something jogs their memory,” said Parr, who moved with the team from Tucson, Ariz., after last season. “They all of a sudden become human again.
“Do families want to have a good time? Then, come to the ballpark.”
Butler played 17 seasons in the Majors, including stints with the Giants and Dodgers, and has coached several minor league teams. Butler, though, is also a man of dreams. Thanking the Lord each time, the 51-year-old manager dreams of these opportunities and said he is fortunate to be blessed with another chance after making history by signing with the Aces in December.
“I believe each and every one of us have dreams,” said Butler, who will be working with hitting coach Rick Burleson and pitching coach Mike Parrott.
But Butler wants the community to grasp their dreams and realize that professional baseball is now in their back yard.
“I want you to know that I’m going to put a team on the field that is exciting and going to play the game the way it’s supposed to be,” Butler said. “You can have your Giants season ticket holders. You can have your Dodgers season ticket holders, but this is home. You have Reno season tickets.”
Fans will get their chance to watch the Aces in the April 17 home opener against the Salt Lake Bees.
“This is the kind of chemistry taking place in this ballpark,” Rickey said. “You’re not seeing a Triple-A team of the Arizona Diamondbacks. You’re going to have your home team, the Reno Aces. It’s going to be a wonderful reflection on the community.”
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