Long-time followers of Rock Cats baseball do not have to be reminded how classy manager Jeff Smith is.
Smitty played with the team for parts of six years, endearing himself to the community through visits to hospitals, schools, libraries and nursing homes.
Smith, who has been summoned to Minnesota to serve as an extra coach for the remainder of the season, was welcomed back warmly when the Twins promoted him to manager of the Double-A club.
What happened to Smith and the Rock Cats this season was unfortunate. The team, young to start with, was dealt some crippling injuries and the Twins’ minor league system was unable to sustain the hits. They avoided the indignity of a 100-loss season but he endured the worst season since Eastern League baseball returned to the Hardware City in 1983.
Smith, in tune with his warm demeanor, issued the following letter to the core of Rock Cats fans, who still came out in record number to enjoy the affordable family entertainment that the team engenders so well:
I would like to thank personally the fans of the New Britain Rock Cats for their support all season. Even though we went through some tough times on the field, our fans were always there to stand behind us, and cheer us on each and every night.
Part of a baseball player’s development is to play in front of big crowds and you guys have provided this. The Rock Cat fan base is like a tight-knit family and our players appreciate it.
Our players were all over the community again this year and we would have it no other way. The fans are what make the Rock Cats organization and stand above the rest. Thanks again for all of the support, and follow these young men as they journey to the Minnesota Twins.