While minor league managers aren't judged solely on their team's record, Dave Huppert admits that his 184-247 (.427) record with Lehigh Valley certainly didn't help his cause. However, his previous success as a manager in the Phillies organization likely gave him a longer leash than some managers in his situation might have had.
Huppert managed both Lakewood and Clearwater to championships in his first two seasons in the Phillies minor league system. In those seasons, Huppert's teams were a combined 167-112 (.598), which likely helped him to get the Triple-A job when the Phillies shifted their affiliation to the IronPigs for the 2008 season.
In his 23 seasons as a minor league manager, Huppert is a combined 1609-1461 (.524), putting him in third place among the winningest active managers in the minors.
According to Huppert, the Phillies gave him no specific reason for why they would not renew his contract at the end of the season. Phillies assistant general manager, Chuck LaMar was at Lehigh Valley on Sunday and delivered the news to Huppert in an afternoon meeting, although Huppert believed the news would be coming for some time now.
"Dave Huppert is a good baseball man and a good person and it was a tough decision, but we just decided this was a move that we had to make," explained LaMar. "Dave did a good job for the Phillies and I wanted to let him know in person so he could inform his players and staff before the end of the season."
While he's not sure what the future will hold, Huppert is going to spend the winter looking for another opportunity to manage in the minors, preferably at the upper levels, rather than managing in the lower levels or working in some other capacity in baseball.
"I want to stay in player development," said the 53 year-old Huppert. "I like the upper levels. I like the mental part of the game. I love to teach, but I'm not getting any younger to get out there on the field."
Among his accomplishments with young players, Huppert listed helping players like Matt Maloney, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Carlos Carrasco at various points of their careers. "Maloney's work ethic wasn't great, but now it is. He works his butt off now all the time. Trying to get guys like Carrasco over the hump and let him know what a full season's like and letting Marson know what it's like to catch 120 games a year," remembered Huppert.
Perhaps one of his best success stories is Jason Donald, who played under Huppert at both Clearwater and Lehigh Valley prior before being dealt to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee deal last Summer.
"Donald used to run himself into the ground before the game even started, just working hard on every aspect of the game and I worked to get him into a routine."
Huppert will manage the IronPigs final game of the season Monday against Scranton Wilkes-Barre and has no regrets about his time in the Phillies organization. "The Phillies have been very good to me and I'm at peace with the job that I've done for them," said Huppert.
After Monday's game, Huppert will head home to start his job hunt for the 2011 season. Of course, with all of his time in baseball, Huppert likely has a number of names to call on.