BRISTOL - Not long after they created the vacancy, the Bristol Blues brought in Post University Athletic Director Ronnie Palmer earlier this month to be the new manager and, while summer is still a ways away, he is ready to make an impact and bring back the success that the team found in its inaugural season.
“I’m certainly excited,” Palmer said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity and the organization’s leadership. I’m looking forward to working with a first-class organization.”
Palmer is in his second year as the athletic director at Post but his qualifications for the Blues’ manager position date back earlier. He coached baseball at Davis & Elkins College, his alma mater, for seven seasons, where he won a school-record 156 games. Prior to Davis & Elkins and other coaching stops, Palmer played in college so his love for baseball dates back a long way.
“Part of it is when I got into college athletics 18 yrs ago, I was a baseball coach,” Palmer said about what drew him to coaching the Blues, “and I’ve always had that passion for the game.”
The Blues and Palmer were brought together by a combination of people, some of which have connections to both Post and Bristol. Brenden Kudla and Brianna Root both work for the Blues during the summer and attend Post during the year and, in addition to Post Sports Information Director David Ambrose, called Palmer’s attention to the opening.
“Dave Ambrose and Brenden Kudla and Brianna Root, they said there was a possibility that the Blues were looking for a coach and it kind of came to fruition,” Palmer said.
On the Bristol side, Kudla played a key role in putting Palmer on the Blues organization’s radar.
“[Brenden] came to me and said he knew the AD at Post and he would love to coach the team,” blues owner Elliot Scheiner said. “What we didn’t know is he has 15 years of experience coaching at D-II colleges.”
For Scheiner, the interview process with Palmer went perfectly and he was confident in Palmer’s ability to lead the team immediately.
“He said all the right things,” Scheiner said. “I agreed with everything he was saying. I find everything great about this guy.”
While having connections with the team, both on and off the field (the Blues had many players from Post play for them last summer), Palmer was also partly sold on taking the job by the venue. Like professional baseball players are drawn to Yankee Stadium, he was drawn to Muzzy Field.
“It’s an exciting environment,” he said. “I came up with my son to see a game this summer and loved the atmosphere at Muzzy. It was an electric environment.”
This past season, the Blues finished out of a playoff spot with a 23-32 record. Bristol started the season with four straight wins but what mattered most was the end of the season, when the team dropped its last five games and six of their last seven to miss the postseason.
Palmer’s job will be to turn around an organization that reached the Futures League championship series just two summers ago and reignite the excitement of a baseball-loving fan base that is Bristol.
“The biggest thing is bringing a good brand of baseball,” Palmer said. “Something people can be proud of. I also want to bring a little bit of consistency this summer. Something for the organization and Bristol to rally around and be proud of.”
As far as the roster goes, it is nearly, if not completely, full at this time but Palmer is comfortable and happy with how it is constructed.
“The organization has done a wonderful job putting the team together,” he said. “There’s a New England flavor [and] a Connecticut flavor. When you get guys from the area to play on a summer league team, there’s more of a community feel to the organization.”
With Palmer in as the new manager, the Blues just need a new general manager and, according to Scheiner, that decision could come soon.
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org