Tom Prince has spent 26 years in various roles with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
When the 2020 season begins, the 1982 graduate of Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School could be the manager of the Major League Baseball team.
Prince’s association with the Pirates began in 1984, when the Pirates drafted him after he spent two years as a star catcher at Kankakee Community College. He spent seven seasons as a reserve catcher with Pittsburgh, then spent another 10 years as a big league player with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Kansas City.
He then returned to the Pirates’ organization, serving first as a minor league manager and field coordinator before becoming the bench coach for the parent club in 2017.
On Sunday, the Pirates relieved Clint Hurdle of his managerial duties. Prince stepped in as manager for the final game of the season, and it might prove to be more than a temporary gig.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Prince is one of a handful of viable options to take over for Hurdle.
“Prince hasn’t managed on the big league level, but he compiled a 434-407 (.516) record in the Pirates (minor league) system while advancing to the postseason six times,” the Post-Gazette’s Nubyjas Wilborn said in a column Sunday. “He knows the organization well, and players like him a lot.”
Prince was selected 64th overall by the Pirates in the 1984 draft and played for Pittsburgh from 1987-93. Three of those years (1990, ’91 and ’92) resulted in playoff berths, but the 1993 season was the first of a 20-season long drought in which the Pirates finished the season with a winning percentage below .500. It’s a streak that snapped during Hurdle’s tenure, something Prince mentioned to The Associated Press Sunday.
“It’s a tough time,” Prince said. “What he (Hurdle) means to this organization. What he brought it back from? I was actually a player here. What he did to rebuild it and as a part of that? Tremendous.”
Prior to a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field last summer, Prince told the Daily Journal why he wanted to get into coaching, and why serving as a manager is his ultimate goal.
“You make a difference in people’s lives and help them get through the game, and you’re still able to be in the game,” Prince said. “You want to be able to make a difference not only professionally, but personally. I don’t judge anybody and just help everybody that I can.”