Washington Wild Things
|Washington Wild Things|
|League||Frontier League (East Division)|
|Ballpark||Consol Energy Park|
|League championships||1 (1997)|
|Division championships||5 (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007)|
|Colors||Black, Red, White|
|Retired numbers||12 (Chris Sidick)|
|Ownership||Stu and Francine Williams|
|General Manager||Steve Zavacky (Managing Director)|
|Media||95.3 WJPA-FM Washington Observer-Reporter|
The Washington Wild Things are a professional baseball team based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Washington, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The Wild Things are a member of the East Division of the Frontier League, an independent baseball league which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. From the 2002 season to the present, the Wild Things have played their home games at Consol Energy Park.
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The Washington Wild Things were founded in December 2001 when a group of local business men and women decided to purchase a team to play at the new ballpark being constructed just off I-70 in Washington County.
The group began negotiations with the owners of the Canton Crocodiles in the early fall of 2001. They completed the deal in early December, and opened up for business at a store front at the Washington Crown Center while the ballpark was under construction.
In April 2002, the management team moved to Falconi Field, and the team inaugurated the field with a home-opener against the Canton Coyotes on May 29, 2002. The Washington Wild Things, under the direction of Kent Tekulve (Director of Baseball Operations), Jeff Isom (Field Manager), and coaches Joe Charboneau, Lance Robinson and Mark Mason, completed the regular season as league leaders in wins with 56 victories and 28 losses. The team was crowned the Eastern Division Champions, but they fell short in the Championship Round of the Playoffs (Best of 5), falling to the Richmond Roosters 3 games to 1. Manager Jeff Isom was awarded the Roger Hanners Manager of the Year Award, and pitcher Jared Howton was honored with the Bryan Tollberg Most Valuable Pitcher Award. Four players were named to the 2002 All-Star Team: SS Brad Hensler, C Shaun Argento, SP Jared Howton and RP Robert Garvin. The Washington Wild Things were also named Organization of the Year by the Frontier League.
In 2003, the Washington Wild Things coaching staff consisted of Kent Tekulve (Director of Baseball Operations), Jeff Isom (Field Manager) and coaches Joe Charboneau and Mark Mason. Anxious to return to the playoffs, the team completed the season tied with the Chillicothe Paints with 54 victories and advanced to post season play. Gateway ended the Wild Things' quest for the Championship by defeating Washington in the playoffs 2 games to 0 (best of 3 series). Wild Things catcher and outfielder Josh Loggins received the Morgan Burkhart Award for Most Valuable Player from the Frontier League.
The Wild Things' third season showcased a different coaching staff, with the exception of Mark Mason. John Massarelli joined the Wild Things as field manager, and Ryan Ellis, a former second baseman for the team, turned his efforts to coaching. The Wild Things again advanced to the post-season, but lost three straight to the Evansville Otters in the first round of the playoffs (best of 5). The Wild Things received many honors, however. 2B Brian Stoecklein and OF Jack Headley were named to the 2004 League All Star Team. Manager John Masarelli received the Roger Hanners Award for Manager of the Year after leading his club to a first place finish in the East Division and establishing a league record for wins in a season. In addition, Wild Things general manager Ross Vecchio was named Executive of the Year and the team was once again named Organization of the Year by the Frontier League.
Led by second-year manager John Massarelli, the Wild Things made Frontier League history by winning a league-record 63 games, besting their own previous mark from the 2004 season. For the fourth straight season, the team advanced to the playoffs, losing the series 3 games to 2 to the Chillicothe Paints. In July, the Frontier League played its annual All-Star game at Falconi Field and five Wild Things were named to the East team’s roster: pitchers Jim Popp and Ryan Douglass, catcher Randy McGarvey, infielder Lance Koenig and outfielder Mike Arbinger. In front of a sellout crowd of 3,595, Arbinger won both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award as the East defeated the West 5-4. As the regular season concluded, the franchise set two new attendance records by selling out Falconi Field for 35 consecutive games and seeing over 150,000 people enter the stands during the course of the season. In September, the Frontier League named the Wild Things their Organization of the Year for the third time in the franchise’s four year history.
The Wild Things enjoyed great success in their fifth season at Falconi Field, completing the year with a 59-37 regular season record and capturing the East Division Crown for the fourth time. The team advanced to post-season play for an unprecedented fifth consecutive season. The 2006 season proved to be memorable for a number of reasons. The team became the winningest team in Frontier League with a 294 victories in their five-year history. Manager John Massarelli received the Roger Hanners Manager of the Year Award for the second time, making him the only Frontier League Manager to ever repeat and win the prestigious honor more than once. Pitching Coach Mark Mason was named the league’s Coach of the Year for his performance with the Wild Things. The Wild Things led all of professional baseball in triples, chalking up 58 in 96 games. Chris Sidick broke the Frontier League record for triples with 16.
At the start of the 2007 season, the Wild Things sold facility naming rights to their new partner, CONSOL Energy, changing the name of the ballpark to CONSOL Energy Park. The Wild Things advanced to post-season play for the sixth consecutive year…a feat very few teams have achieved. Even though the Frontier League Crown eluded the Washington club, they remained the winningest team in Frontier League History. Nathan Messner, Robbie Knapp, and Mario Garza proceeded to hit double-figure homeruns as the team established a new team record with 89 homeruns. Jarod Rine became the first Washington player to lead the league with 33 stolen bases. Washington was well represented at the 2007 Frontier League All Star Game, with Tom Cochran, Aaron Ledbetter, Ian Heisel, Robbie Knapp, and Nathan Messner were all selected to play for the North Squad (Ledbetter was the starting pitcher). John Massarelli, the Wild Things’ field manager, earned his 500th managerial victory at CONSOL Energy Park in August. Aaron Ledbetter garnered his 30th career victory and received the Pitcher of the Year award from the Frontier League. The Wild Things, who maintained control of the Eastern Division after the first week of the season, clinched their fifth East Division Title in the six years on August 24 when they defeated the Gateway Grizzlies. The Wild Things also established a new team attendance record with 177,495 fans for the 2007 baseball season. The team played to over 100 percent capacity, selling out 34 games and selling out the 200th game in franchise history during the 2007 playoffs.
Manager Greg Jelks took over the Wild Things in 2008, leading the team to a third place finish in the Eastern Division. Washington completed the season with a .500 record (48-48). The Wild Things sent five representatives to the 2008 Frontier League All-Star game. Infielder Robbie Knapp, outfielder Chris Sidick and designated hitter Jacob Dempsey joined the Eastern Division team, as well as pitchers Mike Schellinger and Aaron Ledbetter. Dempsey was honored as the Frontier League Designated Hitter of the Year. He ranked 15th in the league in hitting, with a .310 average, four triples, 31 doubles and 88 RBIs. Sidick also had a standout year for the Wild Things. Already the Frontier League’s all-time leader in triples, he again led the league with nine triples during the season. He also finished third in the league in runs scored with 77. Sidick batted .311 on the year with 16 doubles and 41 RBIs. On the mound, Brooks Dunn was among the Frontier League pitching leaders. Dunn posted a 3.32 ERA, which was good for ninth in the league. Fans continued to support the Wild Things at home. For the sixth consecutive year, more than 150,000 fans walked through the turnstiles at CONSOL Energy Park, the third highest attendance in the Frontier League.
Mark Mason returned to Washington as the new manager of the Wild Things in 2009. He had previously served as a coach with the team and was named Frontier League Coach of the Year in 2006. After a slow start, the Wild Things hit a midseason stride. They posted a 17-9 record in July, including a five-game winning streak from July 7–11. Unfortunately, the Wild Things were unable to keep up the pace and finished the season in fourth place in the East Division, with a 43-53 record. Three Washington players were named to the Frontier League All-Star Team, and all three put in stellar performances at the game in Rockford. Grant Psomas and Jacob Dempsey each homered to help the East Division win 5-2, and Nick Peterson earned the win in relief. Psomas also won the All-Star Home Run Derby. Several Wild Things players finished the season among the Frontier League batting leaders. Jacob Dempsey led the league in home runs (31), RBI (95) and extra base hits (56). Dempsey was also third in slugging percentage at .621. Ernie Banks, who played for the Wild Things until mid-August led the league in slugging percentage (.668). Chris Sidick finished second in the league with triples with seven. In his fifth season with Washington, Chris Sidick set several Frontier League career records in 2009. Already the career record holder in triples (44), Sidick set new records in career games played (430), career at-bats (1,626), career walks (256), career hits (460). On September 3, the Wild Things made history with their first ever triple play, a game-ending triple play. The Wild Things again received the support of the Washington faithful during the season as 133,881 fans packed CONSOL Energy Park throughout the summer.
Darin Everson took over as field manager for the Wild Things, bringing on board pitching coach Mark Dewey and hitting coach Dana Williams. Bob Bozzuto returned as bench coach for his fifth year with the team. The team finished fourth in the East Division with a 38-57 record. Chris Sidick, in his sixth year with the club, set league career records for runs (359) and total bases (845) adding to his existing league records for games (497), at-bats (1875), hits (535), triples (49) and walks (289). He also tied for third in the league with five triples for the 2010 season and became the first Wild Things player to play all nine positions in a single game on Sept. 1 at Lake Erie. Sidick, along with second baseman Michael Parker and relief pitcher Kevin Hammons, was selected for the East Division All-Star Team. Several Wild Things pitchers shone during the season as well. Closer Eryk McConnell finished third in the league with 15 saves. Rookie starting pitcher Jeff Sonnenberg pitched two complete games, including a two-hit shutout against Lake Erie on July 29, in which he faced the minimum 27 batters. Starter Billy Muldowney, who joined the team mid-season, posted a 1.40 ERA and fell six innings short of qualifying for the league ERA title.
The Washington Wild Things finished fifth in the Frontier League’s Eastern Division in 2011. The team had a 42-53 record and finished 13-1/2 games behind division champion and league champion Joilet. The Wild Things struggled offensively nearly the entire season and never were able to muster enough at the plate to help the pitching staff, which had four of its members sign affiliated contracts during the season. Washington’s lack of offensive output offset the pitching staff leading the Frontier League in earned run average and league-record for quality starts. The Wild Things finished last in the league in batting average, runs, hits, walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. After the season, the team and Manager Darin Everson parted ways.
The 2012 season ushered in a new era for the Washington Wild Things. Gone was manager Darin Everson and in stepped Chris Bando and his coaching staff with years of experience in the Major Leagues. The Wild Things got off to a fast start in May, but an inability to produce runs in support of its pitching staff plagued the club in similar fashion as in 2011. June saw the Wild Things’ reliever Nathan Striz signed away to affiliated ball with the Boston Red Sox. In nine appearances for the Wild Things this season, Striz posted an ERA of 1.46, allowing just two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings pitched. More impressive, Striz struck out 17 batters in those 12 innings. Gary Lee was the Wild Things’ lone representative at the Frontier League All-Star game in July. The All-Star nomination capped a big week for Lee who also welcomed a daughter to the world a week earlier. Throughout the year Washington was led by a group of locals in Andrew Heck, Rick Devereaux and Gus Benusa. Heck could be consistently found at the top of the batting statistics and when the season came to a close, was a nominee for the Frontier League’s Rookie of the Year award. Heck also became just the second player in franchise history to play all nine positions in a single game. As the summer wore on the Wild Things continued to fall in the standings, but a boost to the struggling lineup came in the form of a late-July trade with the now-defunct London Rippers. The trade sent four members to the Wild Things’ that provided a bigger presence that was felt in the Wild Things’ lineup. One of those acquisitions would go on to make Frontier League history, as Darian Sandford became the single season stolen bases leader with 71. The acquisitions of Sandford, Mark Samuelson, Brad Agustin and Jim Vahalik got the Wild Things’ playing .500 ball the rest of the way and was a key factor in the Wild Things finishing the season winning six of their last seven games. As the season came to a close, the Wild Things finished with a 44-52 record. Gary Lee added another accolade to his strong season as the winner of the Fran Riordan Citizenship Award.
|Canton Crocodiles (Frontier League)|
|1997||45–35||.562||2nd in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Defeated the Johnstown Steal 2–0.
Frontier League Championship Series: Defeated the Evansville Otters 2–0.
|1998||41–38||.519||2nd in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. Chillicothe Paints 2–1.|
|1999||33–51||.393||5th in FL East|
|2000||38–46||.452||5th in FL East|
|2001||47–37||.560||3rd in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. Chillicothe Paints 2–1.|
|Playoffs||6–4||.600||3 Playoff Appearances, 1 Championship.|
|Washington Wild Things (Frontier League)|
|2002||56–28||.667||1st in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Defeated the Kalamazoo Kings 2–0.
Frontier League Championship Series: Lost vs. Richmond Roosters 3–1.
|2003||54–34||.614||2nd in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. Gateway Grizzlies 2–0.|
|2004||62–34||.646||1st in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. Evansville Otters 3–0.|
|2005||63–32||.663||1st in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. Chillicothe Paints 3–2.|
|2006||59–37||.615||1st in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Lost vs. Chillicothe Paints 3–1.|
|2007||55–40||.579||1st in FL East||Frontier League Division Series: Defeated the Gateway Grizzlies 3–0.
Frontier League Championship Series: Lost vs. Windy City ThunderBolts 3–2.
|2008||48-48||.500||3rd in FL East|
|2009||43-53||.448||4th in FL East|
|2010||38-57||.400||5th in FL East|
|2011||42-52||.447||5th in FL East|
|2012||44-52||.458||6th in FL East|
|2013||41-55||.427||6th in FL East|
|2014||57-37||.606||2nd in FL East (As of September 3, 2014|
|Playoffs||9–17||.346||5 Division Titles, 6 Playoff Appearances.|
Washington Wild Things roster
|Active (24-man) roster||Coaches/Other|
- First ever perfect game in Frontier League history, (Matt Sergey, August 24, 2014)
- Frontier League Organization of the Year (2002, 2004, 2005)
- Second team in Frontier League history to make playoffs four straight years (Evansville 1997–2000)
- Led Frontier League in wins four straight seasons
- 2002 (56 – 28)
- 2003 (54 – 34)
- 2004 (62 – 34)
- 2005 (63 – 32)
- In 2005:
- 35–12 second half of season (Since July 18)
- 23–5 the month of August
- 13-game winning streak (July 27 – August 9)
- 11-game winning streak (August 12 – August 23)
- 14 straight home wins (August 3 – August 23)
New Frontier League Records up to 2005
- Only perfect game in Frontier League history (August 24, 2014 thrown by Matt Sergey)
- Wins in a season: 63 (old record - Washington Wild Things 2004)
- Triples: 46 (old record - 33; Springfield 1999)
- Runs: 645 (old record - 612; London 1999)
- At Bats: 3,357 (old record - 3329; Rockford 2004)
- Hits: 999 (old record - 962; Rockford 2004)
- RBI: 567 (old record - 550; London 1999)
- Base on Balls: 433 (old record - 427; Dubois County 2002)
- Saves: 34 (old record - Washington Wild Things 2004)
- Total Chances: 3740 (old record - 3,687; S/O 2004)
- Individual Saves by a closer, Jonathan Kountis
- Hosted the Frontier League All-Star game in 2005 and 2013
2002-2003: Jeff Isom (110-62)
2004-2007: John Massarelli (239-143)
2008: Greg Jelks (48-48)
2009: Mark Mason (43-53)
2010-2011: Darin Everson (80-110)
2012: Chris Bando (44-52)
2013-2014: Bart Zeller (72-74)
2014: Bob Bozzuto: (36-18)
Following the 2003 season, Jeff Isom resigned as manager and moved to the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League. After the 2007 season, Massarelli and the Wild Things parted ways. He took 2008 off and was named the first manager in Lake Erie Crushers history. In 2008, Greg Jelks was named the new manager of the Wild Things, but failed to lead them to the playoffs and finished the season at 48-48.
Mark Mason returned to the Wild Things in 2009 as manager after coaching the Paints for two seasons. In November 2009, Mason left the Wild Things to become pitching coach of the Atlantic League's York Revolution, leaving the Wild Things without a manager. On February 16, 2010, they announced Darin Everson as their new manager. After the 2011 season, Darin Everson and the Wild Things parted ways following an 80-110 record over two seasons. On October 18, 2011, the Wild Things hired former MLB catcher and class Triple AAA coach Chris Bando as the 6th manager in Wild things history. In March 2013 Bando announced that due to complications from hip surgery in January he would resign as manager. Recently hired Bench coach Bart Zeller, who had managed the Joliet Slammers the last two seasons and won a championship, was promoted to manager. During the 2014 season at 31-19 headed into the All-Star break, manager, Bart Zeller resigned due to "health concerns. He was scheduled to manage the Eastern All-Stars. After the break, Bob Bozzuto took over as manager.
Championships and Awards
2002 Frontier League Eastern Division Champions
2002 Frontier League Organization of the Year
2002 Jared Howton, Most Valuable Pitcher
2002 Jeff Isom, Manager Of the Year
2003 Josh Loggins, Most Valuable Player
2004 Frontier League Eastern Division Champions
2004 Frontier League Organization of the Year
2004 John Massarelli, Manager Of the Year
2005 Frontier League Eastern Division Champions
2005 Frontier League Organization of the Year
2006 Frontier League Eastern Division Champions
2006 John Massarelli, Manager Of the Year
2007 Frontier League Eastern Division Champions
- Washington Wild Things
- Frontier League
- Wild Things Page at OurSports Central
- Wild Things Roster Page