High Point Rockers officially name manager, pitching coach
By: Taylor Cramer
On a sunny afternoon in a room that overlooked the High Point skyline, several individuals gathered for the official signing of the High Point Rockers’ first-ever field manager and pitching coach.
On Nov. 28, High Point’s new baseball team, the High Point Rockers, held a press conference in downtown High Point at the Lofts at Plant Seven to announce their first field manager, Jamie Keefe and pitching coach, Frank Viola.
Leading the project is High Point University’s very own president Dr. Nido Qubein. “Something is happening in High Point, something of great measure, with a promising future,” said Qubein beginning the press conference.
High Point will not only have a brand new stadium to call home, but they will have their own team. Qubein’s goal for this project is to bring the entire city of High Point together as one, with hopes that this could be the start of something spectacular. Qubein’s face lit up as he said, “it’s about time High Point had its time in the light.”
Rockers team president Ken Lehner introduced the team’s leads, “Jamie Keefe and Frank Viola have done nothing but two things in their career; win games and develop players,” smiling he added, “success breeds success.” Lehner believes this makes Keefe and Viola more than qualified to run the team.
Keefe’s career started in 1992 when he became the third round pick for the Pittsburgh Pirates; 26 years later and his baseball career continues. Lehner and Keefe have been working together for five seasons; those of which lead to an average of 60 wins per season, four playoff games, two division championships, and one league championship.
“I would not be wearing this championship ring today if not for Jamie Keefe,” Lehner said. After 16 seasons of managing baseball teams, Keefe has become a natural recruiter with the talent of pushing his teams to victory. “It’s going to be challenging, but I love what I do and getting the chance to create a team from scratch and teach a borderline Hall-of-Famer (Viola) everything I know is going to be exciting,” Keefe said of his new team. Thanking the city of High Point for this opportunity Keefe said, “We’re going to build a family atmosphere at that ballpark and do two things: have fun and win baseball games.”
Former Major League player Viola lives and breathes baseball, with almost 50 years of his life dedicated to the sport. He started playing baseball at the age of 9, and now at 58 years old, his love for the game is as strong as ever. After 15 years of playing Major League Baseball, starting his career with the Minnesota Twins and ending with the Toronto Blue Jays, he decided it was time to give back. He spent eight seasons with the New York Mets organization, starting at rookie-level and moving up to AAA. “The one thing they do in independent ball that they don’t do anywhere else, is they play the game because they love to play the game,” said Viola explaining what compelled him to join this team. After losing sight of this, Viola wants to learn to have fun again while taking on this opportunity.
The team’s hopes for this new baseball league is that it will positively impact the community, both economically and emotionally. So far this project has created over 550 construction jobs with over 100 more to come once the facility is up and running.
“You’re in for something special, I think this is going to touch the town in a way that hasn’t been touched in a long time,” Keefe said.
Fans can secure their seats and tickets for the upcoming season by heading over to the team’s office on 214 Lindsay St. in downtown High Point, or they can check out their website at www.HighPointRockers.com.
The team has their season opener on Thursday, April 25, 2019, against the defending Atlantic League Champions, the Sugar Land Skeeters. The team’s first home game on Thursday, May 2, 2019, at the BB&T Point Ballpark. Follow the Rockers for upcoming events such as the announcement and debut of their mascot in January 2019. You can follow these updates on Facebook at @HighPointBaseball, Instagram at @HighPointRockers, and Twitter at @Rockersbaseball.