The United Shore Professional Baseball League, an independent circuit that drew mighty skepticism when it launched just four years ago, has sent 37 players on to sign contracts with major-league organizations.
Now, it's sending its most-successful manager on, as well.
Chris Newell, who has managed the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers since the league's inception in 2016, was hired to be the manager of the New York Mets' rookie-ball affiliate in Kingsport, Tenn.
The Kingsport Mets made the announcement Monday.
Newell's pitching coach with the Mets will be long-time major-leaguer Glenn Abbott, who was on the Tigers' 1984 World Series championship team. Newell's entire staff is brand new to Kingsport.
Newell's ties to professional baseball date to 1997, as a player, manager and scout, the latter with the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees. He managed the Kalamazoo Kings of the Frontier League in 2003, and also has an extensive teaching career, among his pupils Birmingham Brother Rice alum D.J. LeMahieu, the Yankees' second baseman who's won a batting title and three Gold Gloves, to go with three All-Star appearances.
With the USPBL, which starts its fifth season at Jimmy John's Field in Utica on May 8, Newell led the Beavers to three championship-game appearances, and two titles. Last season was the only time the Beavers didn't make the title game.
Newell, of Waterford, is the fifth USPBL coach to move on to an coaching job affiliated with a major-league organization.
Last month, USPBL also celebrated its 37th player to sign with a major-league organization, when right-hander Max Bain signed with the Chicago Cubs.
In 2019, the USPBL had a breakthruogh, with its first alum to make it to the major leagues, when right-hander Randy Dobnak made nine appearances in the regular season and posted a 1.59 ERA, before appearing in the Twins' playoff series against the Yankees. His start in the playoff series became a national story, because earlier in the year, he was driving Uber to make ends meet.
In other USPBL news:
►The league is holding opening tryouts April 21-24 at 2SP Sports Performance in Shelby Township. Players must be at least 18, and not older than 26. For more details, visit uspbl.com.
►Dan Griesbaum Jr. has joined the league as a vice president. He played at Grosse Pointe South and Central Michigan, and his father, Dan, is the long-time head baseball coach at Grosse Pointe South.