There isn’t much Orono native Brian Butterfield hasn’t accomplished as a baseball coach over the past 26 seasons.
After playing minor league baseball in the New York Yankees’ system from 1979 to 1984, he began his coaching career as a roving infield instructor in the Yankees organization in 1984.
He was named Manager of the Year in the Gulf Coast League in his first season as a skipper (1988).
In 1994, he made his move to the major leagues as the Yankees’ first base coach under current Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter and moved on to Arizona with Showalter and was the Diamondbacks’ third base coach.
He returned to the Yankees in 2001 and managed Tampa to a Florida State League (A) championship.
He managed AAA Columbus the next year but was fired on May 16.
Less than three weeks later, he became the Blue Jays’ third base coach and infield instructor. He was named their bench coach for the 2008 season and returned to the third base coach’s box this year.
Now the Blue Jays’ managerial job is open after Cito Gaston’s retirement and Butterfield has already interviewed for the position.
“I thought it went well,” said Butterfield. “But you never really know.”
They told him they hope to fill the position soon.
He feels he is ready to manage and he also said he feels a loyalty to the Toronto organization.
Other managerial jobs have come open with the Brewers, Cubs, Mets and Pirates.
“I want to be a Blue Jay. I love the direction they’re going,” said the 53-year-old Butterfield. “It’s exciting.”
The Blue Jays went 85-77 and finished fourth in the top-heavy American League East, 11 games behind division-winning Tampa Bay.
But Butterfield likes being in baseball’s best division.
“It is what it is. It’s a great challenge,” said Butterfield, who has never backed down from a challenge. “There’s no reason we can’t be that team that makes a move [up the standings].”
The Blue Jays led the major leagues in homers and boast a young and promising pitching staff.
Personnel decisions will have to be made but Butterfield has faith that Blue Jays management will make the right choices.
Butterfield has always been loyal.
He had to make a difficult decision after being the starting second baseman for the University of Maine as a freshman. He chose to follow his dad, former Black Bear head coach Jack Butterfield, to Florida Southern.
Brian is very much his father’s son, and Jack was the consummate baseball man.
He had tremendous passion for the game; had a wealth of knowledge and treated all of his players fairly and equally.
Brian is the same way.
His father became vice president of player development and scouting for the Yankees before losing his life in a car accident.
Brian, a former three sports star at Orono High, is currently preparing for Achilles’ heel surgery Thursday in Massachusetts.
“It has been bothering me for some time. It was hard being the third base coach. I couldn’t move,” said Butterfield, who has been informed he should be ready for spring training.
The classy Butterfield was very happy with the Jays’ season.
He said he’ll wait and see how the managerial situation plays out before deciding if he is going to return or look somewhere else.
Hopefully, he will be the next Blue Jays manager. He has paid his dues and his loyalty, competitive nature, knowledge and rapport with players should be rewarded.