FARGO — The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks removed the interim tag from Chris Coste's title Wednesday, April 21, naming him the baseball team's manager.
Coste was named interim manager for the American Association's pandemic-shortened 2020 season after the RedHawks released Jim Bennett. The team went 28-32 in the 60-game regular season under Coste, who is also the head baseball coach at Concordia College in Moorhead.
Coste will retain his head coaching role at Concordia.
"The only thing was making sure that the combination of Concordia and RedHawks was going to work out for everyone involved," Coste said. "The big thing is for me both positions make me better at the other position. That's why it was important for me that we tried to include Concordia and the RedHawks in our essentially 12-month plan."
Coste is a household name for RedHawks fans. He played for the team after graduating from Concordia and was the RedHawks hitting and bench coach for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Coste is the fourth manager in franchise history, joining Doug Simunic, Michael Schlact and Bennett.
"A long time ago when I was a player, this was maybe how I envisioned things to be 25 to 30 years down the road," Coste said. "It seems like the right fit. ... Not only do I want to win on the field, like we all do, I also want to see 4,000 people in the seats. I want the RedHawks to have an incredible local reputation. I want us to be the way we were when I played. I want the community to know who the players are."
The RedHawks start the 2021 season on the road against the Cleburne (Texas) Railroaders on May 18. Their home opener is May 25 against the Chicago Dogs at Newman Outdoor Field.
Coste said RedHawks players personnel consultant Jeff Bittiger played a critical role in Coste being able to continue to coach at Concordia and manage the RedHawks. Bittiger does most of the team building, Coste said, especially during the offseason.
"Jeff Bittiger is probably the biggest reason why I'm able to continue on with both positions," Coste said. "Jeff does the vast majority of it (personnel decisions), but we have a great relationship so he's always running things by me. ... His value to the organization is hard to calculate."
Coste said hitting coach Anthony Renz and bullpen coach Robbie Lopez will remain on staff. Renz is also an assistant for Coste at Concordia.
"The people in place at both Concordia and the RedHawks are one of the factors that make this so easily done," Coste said.
Coste has been the Cobbers head baseball coach for seven seasons.
A Fargo South High School graduate, Coste played three years for the Cobbers and then played four seasons with the RedHawks from 1996-1999. Coste had a .322 batting average with 429 hits, 44 home runs and 221 RBIs in 335 games with the RedHawks.
Coste caught on in affiliated baseball in 2000 with the Cleveland Indians organization, making his Major League debut in 2006 at the age of 33 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was a member of the 2008 World Series championship Phillies team.
During his Major League Baseball career, Coste played for the Phillies, Houston Astros, New York Mets and Washington Nationals, playing in 299 games with a .272 career batting average.
"Once I was named the interim, it never really felt like interim, it felt like manager," Coste said. "So now we just continue on like making it feel more long term than anything."