Wild Things' Massarelli to Take Year Off

By Wald, Bruce | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 6, 2008 | Go to article overview

Wild Things' Massarelli to Take Year Off


Wald, Bruce, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


When the Washington Wild Things begin their seventh season of operation in the Frontier League this May, the baseball team will have its third manager.

John Massarelli, the Wild Things' field manager for the past four years, recently informed the team he was taking a year off from managing. He will be replaced by Greg Jelks, who managed the Slippery Rock Sliders during that team's inaugural 2007 Frontier League season.

"Mazz decided to take a year away from the rigors of managing," said Ross Vecchio, general manager of the Wild Things. "He wants to spend time with his family right now, and traveling with the team doesn't allow that."

Prior to managing the Sliders, Jelks spent five seasons as the field manager of the Evansville Otters where he completed the 2006 season by guiding the team to its first-ever Frontier League championship.

"We're pleased to have Greg join our organization," Vecchio said. "We were looking for a manager with professional experience, and Greg brings that along with a proven track record in the Frontier League."

Jelks is seventh all-time among Frontier League managers with 265 wins. In 2003 he guided the Otters to a 51-37 mark, setting a franchise record for victories en route to being named the Frontier League Roger Hanners Manager of the Year. In 2004 he led the Otters to a 54-42 record while advancing to the Frontier League championship series where they eventually fell to Rockford, and in 2005 Evansville completed the season with a 52-43 record.

"I have always wanted to be able to come to Washington and manage this club," said Jelks. "The Wild Things have a great winning tradition and great baseball fans."

Jelks was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a non- drafted free agent in August of 1981. He made his professional playing debut the next summer at Bend, Ore., of the rookie Northwest League. The next season he was assigned to Spartanburg, S.C., of the Class A South Atlantic League where he batted .261 with 24 HR and 75 RBI.

In 1987 at Maine (AAA) of the International League, he batted .266 with 23 HR and 79 RBI in 123 games. That summer he made his major league debut with the Phillies, appearing in 10 games. He doubled off Montreal's Neal Heaton for his only Major League hit.

Jelks became a free agent in 1989 and joined the Cardinals' AAA Louisville affiliate. In 771 total minor league games over eight seasons, he compiled a career batting average of .245 with 96 HR and 361 RBI. He has also played professionally in Italy and Australia.

Massarelli led the Wild Things to four consecutive playoff appearances, including the team's second runner-up finish last season. He compiled a 239-143 cumulative record with the Wild Things, and he owns the highest winning percentage among Frontier League managers at .

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