Chicago Dogs manager Butch Hobson sees goals clearly
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The Chicago Dogs will market themselves in typical minor-league style. They’ll promote their ballpark, tout their affordability for a family and try to attract adults by tempting them with outdoor drinking and the chance to watch baseball in a festive atmosphere.
But to the players, the Dogs and the independent American Association will represent an opportunity to keep playing pro baseball and possibly attract the attention of a major-league organization. Dogs manager Butch Hobson, who has been leading teams in independent ball since 2000 (except for 2017, when he managed Class A Kane County), knows the importance of this level to whoever ends up playing for him in Rosemont.
“I believe in [independent baseball] or I wouldn’t have stayed in it as long as I did,’’ Hobson said. ‘‘It gives guys opportunities. Free agents that don’t get signed and still want to play, they still have a burning desire in their heart to play baseball and still have a chance to get with an organization to get to the big leagues one day. There are stories like that of guys that come out of independent ball and go back into organizations and have gone to the big leagues.”
Players who’ve gone from independent ball to the big leagues include Rich Hill and David Peralta. Hobson wants to find and help more like them, even if they just get back to affiliated baseball, not necessarily the majors.
“There are stories like that out there that become good stories, and it’s an opportunity for players,” Hobson said. “More and more organizations are going to independent ball and finding either younger players to go to [Class] A ball or a little more veteran guys to go to Double-A or Triple-A and fill in if they have a need.”
Hobson, 66, broke into the majors with the Red Sox in 1975 and became a full-time player in 1977, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 112 runs. Hobson started in the 1978 Eastern Division one-game playoff against the Yankees, going 1-for-4 in the Red Sox’ 5-4 loss.
He eventually managed the Red Sox from 1992 to 1994. In 2000, he took his first job in independent ball, managing the Nashua Pride of the Atlantic League.
Hobson’s passion is the same now, and his goals are clear.
“We’re going to try to help these young men that come play for the Dogs get that opportunity to go back to an organization,’’ Hobson said. ‘‘That will be our No. 1 goal. Our No. 2 goal will be to win a championship for the people of Rosemont and the surrounding areas.”
Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.