FARGO — It was after the season last fall when T.J. Bennett was traded from Lincoln to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Bennett eventually signed with the Chicago White Sox organization, but his family is still with the RedHawks.
His father, Jim Bennett, was named the Fargo-Moorhead manager on Wednesday.
“I think this was meant to be,” Jim Bennett said.
The marriage was born as the result of social media. When the RedHawks obtained T.J. Bennett, his dad started following the club, taking note when Michael Schlact resigned that the team was in need of a manager.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Bennett, who has never been a manager. “The timing has never been right for me. The timing is right now.”
Bennett is a career minor leaguer, having played in the minors for 13 years as a left-handed pitcher. He began his coaching career in 1992 and what followed was a variety of stops until 2007.
He took about seven years off for family reasons.
“It was a priority to be around my family,” Bennett said. “I wanted to watch (T.J.) grow up and play college baseball. The timing was never right.”
So Bennett called RedHawks president and CEO Brad Thom and the connection was made.
“He made it clear they were looking for a pitching guy,” Bennett said.
That’s because the RedHawks will retain assistant coach Chris Coste, who will handle the RedHawks offense.
Bennett replaces Schlact, who resigned to take a pitching coach position with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. The RedHawks finished 51-49 and didn’t reach the American Association playoffs. F-M hasn’t reached postseason since 2013.
Bennett becomes the third manager in club history. Doug Simunic led the team for 22 years, with Schlact lasting one season.
“You’ll get my best every day,” Bennett said. “I’m here to win games. I’m here for the players, the city and the organization. Now, we’ll be developing every day and working at our craft but we’re here to win games.”
Bennett most recently coached in the Australian Baseball League and will continue to be the pitching coach with the Australian National Team. The American Association and Australian seasons don't overlap.
"I think it's important to embrace the city and make sure the city understands we're here for you," Bennett said. "It's funny how it all played out, making a phone call and two weeks later it's a done deal. It feels right. Just meeting Coste last night , we're going to work together well."