FARGO -- It’s been nearly two decades since someone has worn the No. 10 jersey for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, a streak that will end next summer.
Chris Coste was named the RedHawks hitting coach, the American Association baseball club announced Thursday. Coste played for the RedHawks from 1996 to 1999 and wore the aforementioned No. 10 and played catcher.
“It’s pretty simple, without independent baseball and specifically the RedHawks, I’m not wearing a World Series ring,” said Coste, who won a World Series championship with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008.
Coste will continue to be the head coach for the Concordia Cobbers baseball team. He stepped down as the head coach for West Fargo’s American Legion baseball team to take the position with the RedHawks. Coste will be the hitting coach for manager Michael Schlact next season.
Schlact is entering his first full season as team manager after taking over the team from longtime manager Doug Simunic late last season.
“When this name (Coste) came up as possibility to wear the RedHawks uniform again … it was a no-brainer for us,” said Schlact, who finished last season as the team’s interim manager. “He is in a sense the poster boy of independent baseball.”
Coste said after he left the RedHawks after 1999 to join the Cleveland Indians organization, he figured someday he would be back in uniform for the RedHawks. After he left the RedHawks as a player, Coste spent eight seasons in the minor leagues before advancing to the Major League level. He played a total of four seasons in the big leagues for the Phillies and the Houston Astros.
Coste said being able to coach at Concordia and for the RedHawks is a dream scenario for him since both played key roles in his baseball development.
“For me it’s like the best of both worlds,” Coste said. “To wear No. 10 again, it will be pretty cool. … It does feel like another milestone moment to a certain extent.”
Coste is doing the same double-duty as his longtime mentor Bucky Burgau, who also was the head baseball coach for the Cobbers and an assistant for the RedHawks for more than a decade. Burgau is still an assistant baseball coach for the Cobbers.
“I leaned on Bucky a lot,” Coste said. “He’s like a father figure to me.”
Coste was wearing his 1998 Northern League championship ring at his introductory press conference. That was the first league championship for the RedHawks franchise, which started play in 1996. Coste said his Northern League championship ring has as much significance to him and his World Series ring.
“For me this is every bit as special,” Coste said. “We all felt like Major Leaguers.”
Schlact will be manager and pitching coach for the RedHawks next season with Coste serving as the hitting coach. Robbie Lopez will return as the bullpen coach. Schlact said he plans to add one more coach to round out the staff.
“It’s something we’ve been waiting for, for many, many years and we want to welcome Chris Coste back,” RedHawks president Brad Thom said. “We’re looking forward to many more championships with (Coste’s) help.”
The RedHawks have won five league championships (1988, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2010) in their franchise history.