The High Point Rockers baseball team – which will play ball starting in May in the new downtown stadium in High Point – has hired a high profile former major league player to help lead the team: the 1987 World Series Most Valuable Player, and 1988 Cy Young Award winner, Frank Viola.
The Rockers have also hired Jamie Keefe, a sixteen-year veteran of Independent Professional Baseball, as the team’s manager.
Viola spent 15 seasons playing Major League Baseball after being drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Twins in 1981. Viola was a three-time All-Star – in 1988, 1990 and 1991. He led the Twins to the 1987 World Series and was named the series Most Valuable Player. A year later he won the Cy Young Award, which is given annually to the best pitcher in each league.
Viola has spent the last eight years working in the New York Mets organization. During his time there, he oversaw the development of pitching prospects and other players.
At a meeting of local economic development officials and elected leaders this week, High Point Mayor Jay Wagner spoke about the new hires and how pleased he was. Wagner said both Viola and Keefe were very exciting additions.
“Viola is the big splash because people have heard of him,” Wagner said.
He also pointed out that Keefe had had a long, successful career in baseball.
Wagner said the two men will help recruit players for the team in addition to their other duties.
Rockers Team President Ken Lehner said this week that he was thrilled about landing Viola and Keefe.
“Success breeds success,” he said, adding that Keefe and Viola have done nothing but win games and develop players through the years.
Keefe spent over 25 years in professional baseball, both as a player and a manager. A third-round pick out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992, Keefe spent nine years as a player.
As a manager, Keefe has accumulated 790 total wins, two regular-season championships and one league title.
Both Keefe and Frank were signed to two-year deals. Lehner has worked with Keefe before.
The High Point Rockers play their first home game on Thursday, May 2, 2019 against the Sugar Land Skeeters.