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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Fredi Gonzalez showed work ethic early, took that to bigs as coach, manager with Marlins, Braves

With a couple seasons under his belt managing at independent Miami, Fredi Gonzalez found himself working his offseason job loading trucks in late 1991 when he got a call about a new job, The South Florida Sun Sentinel wrote.

The call came from John Boles, the director of player development for the new Florida Marlins.  He'd watched Gonzalez manage in the Florida State League and now he wanted Gonzalez to manage a new Marlins minor league club, The Sun Sentinel wrote.

"I liked the way he came early to the ballpark, his work habits, the way he related to players. We're very pleased to say the least," Boles told The Sun Sentinel. "He's an up-and-comer who wants to get better."

Gonzalez went on to back up that assessment. In a career that has continued for another three decades plus, Gonzalez soon managed himself to the majors, first as a Marlins and then Braves major league coach and then as the Marlins and then Braves major league manager.

Gonzalez' career in baseball began in 1982, taken by the Yankees in the 16th round of the draft out of Miami Southridge Senior High.

He played six seasons in the Yankees system and made AA Albany-Colonie in two of those campaigns. He last payed in 1987. 

Gonzalez then turned to coaching, first at the University of Tennessee. Then, in 1990, he moved to independent Miami in the Florida State League, where he eventually made manager.

He arrived with the Marlins as manager at short-season Erie in 1992, then at high-A High Desert. He made AA Portland in 1997 as manager, then managed AAA Charlotte in 1998.

In 1999, he first arrived in the majors as third base coach for the Marlins under Boles, who'd first given him that call years earlier. That May, Gonzalez took over the top spot for the first time as interim manager when Boles underwent emergency surgery.

"This is not the way I wanted to manage my first game," Gonzalez told The Associated Press then. "Bolesy was the guy that gave me my first opportunity. I wish he was sitting here saying, 'I'll let you manage it,' instead of him going under the knife."

It took a few more years, but Gonzalez won the top job on his own. He stayed with the Marlins through 2001, then managed at AAA Richmond in 2003 and returned to the bigs as a coach with the Braves in 2003.

Then, in 2007, he became manager for the Marlins

"When they say dream big, this was my dream, and I got an opportunity to do it with an organization that gave me my first opportunity," Gonzalez told reporters after being named manager.

Gonzalez then moved back to the Braves in 2011 as their manager. He stayed into 2016. He spent three more seasons as a coach with the Marlins. Then, in 2020, he joined the Orioles as a coach, where he continues in 2022.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,879
Made the Majors:1,296-33.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,583-66.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:528
10+ Seasons in the Minors:324

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