#ThanksCharlie

ThanksCharlie-Article1

It was announced Friday that longtime Durham Bulls skipper Charlie Montoyo has been promoted to the Tampa Bay Rays, joining the Big League club as third base coach. The promotion has been a long time coming for the 50-year-old, who has spent the last eight seasons as manager of the Bulls, and last 18 seasons as a manager at different levels in the Rays minor league system. In his eight seasons with the Bulls, the two-time International League Manager of the Year has won seven division titles and two Governors’ Cups, while reaching the finals a league-record six times. As one of the league’s most decorated managers in history departs for his first Major League coaching job, members of the Bulls staff who knew him well recall what they most appreciated about Charlie Montoyo. Share your thoughts on Charlie’s promotion on social media using #ThanksCharlie.

“I’m not a writer, so hopefully this comes off as how much as I love the guy. My first three years here were with Mr. Evers. I never thought I would work with a manager that I respected as much as him. Working with Charlie these last eight years, I have  found that same respect in Charlie and more importantly he has become a great friend and he will be missed.

The best thing with Charlie was he was even-keeled. That is what made him great, because when we would win the division or a championship we got to see him so excited and just let go in the clubhouse. And when he would get after an umpire about a missed call and see him get fired up it was so fun for us in the clubhouse to tease him when he would come down from the dugout. I would say he was a great mentor, but that doesn’t do justice for what he has done for my career over the past eight years. It’s been more good times than bad, and whoever is named our next manager will be filling big shoes.” – Colin Saunders, Clubhouse Manager

“For the last 8 years, Charlie Montoyo has been my boss from April through September. He’s the first person I talk to regarding weather updates, my staff and I have set up hundreds of early work batting practices and infield stations for him, and I’ve even gotten to listen to him jam out on his bongos in the dugout to break up the monotony that is a day in the life of Minor League Baseball. We worked together in Puerto Rico for the 2009 World Baseball Classic and he has let me tag along on long bus rides through the night chasing league championships. Somewhere between the rain delays and BP setups, I gained a great friend. I’ve had a front row seat to his managerial style, his loyalty, his hardwork, and his love for his family which makes the news of him being promoted to the Rays staff even more enjoyable. The good guys don’t always win, but on April 6th when the Rays open the 2015 season against the Baltimore Orioles, we’ll all be able to look down to the 3rd base coaches box, see Charlie, and know the good guys won this one.” – Scott Strickland, Head Groundskeeper

“I’m so thrilled that Charlie is getting this much deserved opportunity. Spending every day of five seasons with Charlie in Durham, he has been like a brother to me. I know the best part of his job was to let players know they were getting the call-up. Now I’m glad he’s finally getting that call to join the Rays.” – Neil Solondz, Tampa Bay Rays Pre- and Post-Game Broadcaster, Former Durham Bulls Broadcaster

“2014 marked my first season with the Durham Bulls. Before taking the job, I had heard of Charlie Montoyo and knew he had a good reputation around the International League. That was important, as my job in the media relations department works closely with the manager through frequent trips into the clubhouse to deliver materials, finding out roster transactions and grabbing him for interviews, among other miscellaneous trips. However, upon meeting Charlie when the team arrived in Durham, it became apparent to me he possessed more than just a “good reputation.”

From Day One Charlie treated me with respect and courtesy. To say this is a rarity among coaching staffs would be incorrect, but what set Charlie apart was his consistency. Over the grind of a 144-game season, teams will go on winning streaks and losing streaks. Managers will be happy and grumpy, and unfortunately, sometimes their bad moods will be taken out on clubbies, bat boys or even the guys who deliver the box scores (in this case, me). That was never the case with Charlie though. When the team was in the midst of an eight-game losing skid, I’m sure the last thing he wanted to deal with was a 24-year-old pestering him about whether or not a player was coming off the disabled list. But being the utmost professional and class-act he is, Charlie was never short with me, always telling me as much as he could to help me do my job.

In my estimation, this is what sets Charlie Montoyo apart. Take baseball out of the equation, and he’s one of the better people you could ever encounter. After spending just one season with him it’s evident how well-respected he is by those that have known him for years, a testament to how well he’s treated those around him throughout his career. On a professional level, I selfishly wanted him to stay in Durham because you hate to lose such a high-character person from your organization. Personally though, I couldn’t be happier for him to depart for the Rays. It’s a reminder that good things happen to good people, and Charlie sits at the top of that list.” –Matt Sutor, Media Relations Coordinator

“Minor League Baseball is a transient sport. Players, front office staff, managers- they all come and go. Turnover is a part of the game. As marketers in this industry, we talk a lot about mascots being the definable faces of franchises and how the ballpark experience trumps results between the lines. That’s the usual. There isn’t anything usual about Charlie Montoyo and his legacy with the Durham Bulls. His record speaks for itself. It’s really almost comical to talk about the dominance his teams have demonstrated during his accolade-filled eight seasons in Durham. What makes Charlie special though is his story of longevity and loyalty. 18 years with the Rays organization and he finally gets a spot in the Bigs. And while that Major League call-up is what so many (both on the field and in the front office) clamor for, working with Charlie everyday reminded me that there is so much pride to be taken in what we do at the Minor League level. He came to work every day with the goal of being the best; he did things the right way and let his results do all the talking. “If you’re going to be in the Minors, there’s no better place to be than Durham,” he was fond of saying. Achieving here in this particular place, for this particular storied franchise, wasn’t lost on him.

Many will tell you how easy-going Charlie is and that’s true, to an extent. He’s easy-going because he loves to win, and he wins a lot. We lost a lot in 2012, my first year with the Bulls, and Charlie wasn’t so easy-going then. I came to the Bulls from a franchise that has only had three winning seasons (yes, above .500 seasons) in its history. So to hear people speak of division and league titles like they were a given was absolutely insane to me. Then I show up in Durham and we miss the playoffs for the only time in Charlie’s tenure. I tried to convince people that was how things normally worked in Minor League Baseball. I was wrong. 2013 happens and we win the Governors’ Cup, and in 2014 we come within a strike of repeating as league champs. It’s all pretty unbelievable stuff, but if you know Charlie and the steadiness and class with which he goes about his job, the connection between him and the Bulls’ legacy becomes clear. The two are perfectly intertwined. Sure, the Durham Bulls are a special team. But they’re special because of people like Charlie Montoyo.” – Scott Carter, Director of Marketing

“I never expected to meet one of my absolute best friends when the 2012 Durham Bulls season began.  But that’s the relationship Charlie and I built beginning in 2012.  I soon came to find out, I wasn’t alone in this best friend fraternity.

Charlie has more best friends in baseball than anyone I know.

Current players, former players – almost all would tell me that Charlie was not only the best manager for whom they’d ever played, but the best man for whom they had ever played.

Charlie routinely would show me his cell phone after a game on the drive back to the hotel.  Special texts he received from former players would change the course of another random baseball night on the road.  This happened at least a couple of dozen times.  Stories would follow.  He spoke of these players like family, because to Charlie, that’s what they are to him.

Charlie also took losses harder than any other manager I’ve been around.  The franchise-record wins were great, but the losses – those stung him for hours.  The dynamic in the clubhouse after every game with Charlie, Neil Allen, Dave Myers and myself breaking down plays, at-bats and single pitches is a throwback to the purity of authentic baseball.

Charlie went above and beyond to inform players about going to the big leagues that first time.  He’s met players on the side of a highway to give them the news.  He’s shown up at their apartment at 2am to give them the news.

Now the tables have finally turned.

On April 6th – Opening Day – when Charlie trots out in the bottom of the 1st inning, his station will be the most crowded third base box in Rays history.  Every single player Charlie has touched along the way will be standing inside that box with him.

Today is a great day for baseball – while long overdue, everyone in baseball now gets to celebrate Charlie’s major league arrival.” – Patrick Kinas, Durham Bulls Broadcaster

“The 2006 season was one of the most difficult seasons I have gone through.  We had numerous very public player issues and the Bulls brand which we all care so much about was being tarnished.  The season ended with our 2nd straight losing season and the internal feeling was our days of stability and winning that legendary Bulls manager Bill Evers had brought us wouldn’t return anytime soon.

Things changed during that off-season when we were informed Charlie Montoyo was going to be our new manager.  The first time I met Charlie I knew things were going to be different.  I had no idea what was to come in terms of division titles or Governors’ Cup Championships, but I knew we were getting a person similar to Evers.  We were immediately on the same page.  You could tell the passion and loyalty he had for the Rays organization, for the players he managed and for the chance to manage the Durham Bulls.  He went out of his way to become friends with members of the front office.  He went out of his way to develop relationships with our incredible fans.  He went out of his way to make sure all his players understood what it took to win and more importantly what it mean to be a professional baseball player wearing the Durham Bulls uniform.

Our relationship continued to grow as the winning returned.  One thing that will always bring people closer is championship champagne celebrations and Charlie and I have shared many of those.  There is another thing way more important than championships that will bring people closer and that is family.  During the off-season of 2007 Charlie called me and told me there were complications with the birth of his second child, Alex.  As he was explaining what had happened and what the future meant for Alex all I could think of was how strong Charlie was being and how he just kept telling me to say prayers and tell everyone to just say prayers.  At a time when many would question their faith Charlie’s was only getting stronger.  His Durham Bulls family felt helpless being so far away.  At that time I didn’t think Charlie would return as our manager.

He did return and our friendship only grew stronger.  We continued winning at a remarkable pace.  Governors’ Cup Championships, National Championships, All-Star Games and so many more incredible moments he brought our fans.  All this time he was making the Bulls brand stronger and stronger it was getting harder and harder for him to leave his family for 8 months each year.  We get one off day a month and nearly every one of those off days he would fly cross country to spend a few hours with his family and then come back to Durham the next day.  Charlie getting a chance to live his dream out with a call to The Show means so much to so many people.  He has been an inspiration to me and an incredible friend.  While I won’t be able to share anymore champagne showers with him I will be his biggest fan watching him run to 3rd base with his chest pumped out like he has for so many games at the DBAP.  Your loyalty and passion over all these years has finally paid off, my friend.” – Mike Birling, General Manager

4 Comments

It’s going to be a different team this coming season in Durham. Congratulations and #ThanksCharlie ! Well deserved.

Charlie Montoyo…his very name is synonymous with winning and championships. For years as a Bulls’ fan, that was all we knew. As a fan base, we have become very spoiled as we knew every spring was another march to yet another division title and possibly a Governors’ Cup. Expectations were always high and seldom did anything less happen. Yes we had that one bad season two years ago but it was just a blip on the radar screen. He personified class as well. I am a collector as well and I made numerous requests to Coach Montoyo for autographs on cards and programs. We always obliged with a smile. Even as a fan, he was always coaching. Last season as the team sets came out, I approached Coach Montoyo about signing a card. He did so and I mentioned to him that I would not be able to return the next night as it was going to be a big game but I had a family commitment. He smiled, signed my card, and told me that family was always more important than baseball. I knew that but for a coach to say that was special. He got it!!! Good luck Coach! You will never be forgotten here.

Thanks to Charlie. And it is a great and significant tribute to him that you all would say what you have said here. Thanks to all of you as well.

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