02/21/2013 8:31 AM
All three coaches from 2012, including bench coach Bill Sobbe, will return for the T-Bones in 2013. (2012 File Photo by Matthew Hicks.)
The Kansas City T-Bones and manager Kenny Hook have announced that all three coaches from last season – Andy Shipman, Bill Sobbe and Frank White – will return in 2013.
“Having these guys in place is huge for our club,” said Hook. “Now that we’ve worked together for a season, that’s only going to make us better as a staff. The people that we’re talking about are more than qualified – we have the best staff in the league with every facet of the game covered the way we do. That’s a big relief as the manager.”
“I will happily put our staff (in their sophomore year) up against any assembled in Independent baseball,” said T-Bones President Adam Ehlert. “Kenny was an award-winning player and coach at this level, and he enjoyed a successful first year at the helm. Andy Shipman was a devastating pitcher in this league, and did a good job taking on the challenge of coaching last year. Bill Sobbe and Frank White know baseball at the highest level, and I am excited to see their knowledge now properly framed into the Independent level.”
White, a Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame player, joined the T-Bones in January 2012 as first base coach. He enjoyed an 18-year playing career, 1973-90, when he established himself as one of the top second basemen in baseball. He was an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, the MVP of the 1980 ALCS, and batted cleanup during the 1985 World Series. White’s coaching career began in 1992 in the Boston organization. He was the Royals first base coach from 1997-2001, and then managed Double-A Wichita from 2004-06.
“I'm coming back in 2013 because I had a great time with the fans, the front office and the staff, not to mention the relaxed atmosphere was refreshing,” said White. “Working with manager Kenny Hook and the field staff couldn't have gone any better – we blended together very well. It will be exciting to work with the same staff in 2013.
“I'm looking forward to supporting Kenny and the rest of the staff, along with giving the players the benefit of my years of experience in professional baseball. We came close last year and I feel we can get the job done this season. I like the players and the energy they come to play with.”
“I’ve known Frank for more than 25 years and I’m very excited to have him back in the fold for 2013,” said T-Bones Vice-President and General Manager Chris Browne. “I know Kenny and the other coaches, plus our fans, feel the same way. It’ll be fun to have number 20 in uniform at CommunityAmerica Ballpark all summer long.”
Hook hired Sobbe as the T-Bones bench coach two weeks before the start of the 2012 season. For 20 seasons, 1984-2003, Sobbe was the Kansas City Royals bullpen catcher, working with some of the club's best pitchers, including Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery, not to mention the young staff of the mid-1980s. Sobbe played three seasons, 1979-81, in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, reaching Double-A in ’81. Sobbe, who’s been an educator in the Kansas City area since 1982, has spent more than 15 years in the Park Hill School District as a coach, athletic director and assistant principal.
“Last year was Sobbe’s first year back in pro baseball in nearly a decade, so I think a lot of last year was a refresher for him as well as a learning experience of our league,” said Hook. “Our players and the staff will see even more this year just how valuable Bill is to this club.”
Shipman will begin his second year as the T-Bones pitching coach. Under Shipman in 2012, the T-Bones had the second-best team ERA in the American Association (4.03), finished second in strikeouts (682) and gave up the second-fewest number of walks (274). Shipman had a successful nine-year professional playing career, including parts of three seasons (2008-09, ’11) with Kansas City. Before that, Shipman, who pitched at the University of Missouri, played for the Boston, Chicago Cubs and Oakland organizations, reaching as high as Triple-A with Chicago in 2006.
“Shippy had an unbelievable rookie season as a pitching coach,” Hook said. “With our park, which isn’t pitcher friendly, we had great numbers. With that being his first year, he’s going to take what he’s learned and be able to relate even more to his pitchers. Our pitching staff will be a little different this year, but I have the utmost respect for Shippy, and I’m confident he’ll do a great job building from last year.”