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Friday, March 25, 2016

Butch Hobson loved to play; Made bigs as player and manager, later returned after arrest

Originally published Jan. 12, 2014
Butch Hobson had eight seasons with time in the majors behind him in 1983 and he wanted a ninth.

And he was doing his best to try and make that happen with the Yankees at AAA Columbus.

"I think if you love to play the game the way I do, it's not difficult to come down here and play hard," Hobson told The Toledo Blade that June. "I want to get back up and I'm not gonna do it doing nothing."

Hobson did get back up, but just not as a player. He got back up to the majors in 1992 in his post-playing career, as a manager.

By 1996, Hobson was trying to get back up again, but in a different sense of the phrase. In 1996, Hobson was trying to get back up after being arrested on a drug charge while he a manager at AAA. He never got back to the majors, but he did return to managing, finding a home in independent ball.

Hobson's long career in baseball began in 1973, taken by the Red Sox in the eighth round of the draft, out of the University of Alabama.

At Alabama, Hobson played both baseball and football. In football he served as a quarterback in 1971, tallying two completions.

With the Red Sox, Hobson started at single-A Winston-Salem, then made AA Bristol in 1975. He also got a two-game look at Boston that year.

In 1976, Hobson returned to Boston for 76 games, hitting .234, with eight home runs. Going into 1977, Hobson knew he had work to do at the plate, and in the field. And he was willing to do it.

"I'm not seasoned yet, but I just have to learn the league and stay away from mental mistakes," Hobson told The Tuscaloosa News in October 1976.

Hobson quickly became seasoned. In 1977, he played 159 games for the Red Sox and hit 30 home runs. He also knocked in 112.

He hit another 17 home runs in 1978 and 28 in 1979. Injuries shortened his 1980 season, then stints with the Angels and Yankees rounded out his major league career. He continued to play in the minors through 1985, hoping to return to the bigs.

By 1987, Hobson was managing in the minors, managing single-A with the Mets. He returned to the Red Sox in 1989, taking over AA New Britain. He made AAA Pawtucket in 1991, then, in 1992, he got the big job in Boston.

"I'd be lying if I said that I never dreamt of managing in the big leagues, hopefully Boston," Hobson told The Associated Press after being given the top job. "I just got here a little quicker than I thought I would. It's a big thrill and I promise to give 110 percent."

Hobson lasted through 1994 before getting fired with an overall record of 207-232.

By 1996, Hobson was back managing in the minors, this time at AAA with the Phillies. Then came his arrest.

That May, Hobson's team was visiting Pawtucket. A package sent to him by a friend contained 2.6 grams of cocaine. He was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Quickly suspended, Hobson was later fired.

He admitted he used the drug previously, stopping in 1995. But the damage was done. He admitted no guilt in court, serving 60 hours of community service.

By 1999, he was back managing at single-A Sarasota. By 2000, he found independent ball, signing on to helm the Nashua Pride. And he has continued in independent ball, serving as manager of independent Lancaster into 2014.

For 2000, Hobson had the opportunity to return to the Red Sox and manage AA again. Instead, he chose independent Nashua to be closer to his family. Regardless, Nashua was a baseball field just the same.

"This is where I want to be," Hobson told The Hartford Courant in May 2000. "I really am excited. This is baseball."

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