Greg Tagert will be back as RailCats’ manager
By Michael Osipoff firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2485 September 16, 2013 8:38PM
Scott M Bort/Post-Tribune Gary RailCats Media Day Mugs RC TAGERT GREG 2 050610.jpg PTSPT
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:27AM
GARY — Whether Greg Tagert returns as RailCats manager appears to be more a matter of when a contract is finalized than if he does at all.
“Greg’s going to be back,” team owner Pat Salvi said on Monday, two days after Gary won the American Association title. “I think it’s a virtual certainty we’ll reach terms. I think RailCats fans can be assured he’ll be back.”
With the title in hand, it might seem a foregone conclusion. But before the season, there was some uncertainty.
Salvi had continued to grow antsy with the lack of a championship; he purchased the team in April of 2008, after it had won titles in both 2005 and ’07. The RailCats had made the Northern League playoffs every season from 2005 to 2010, reaching the championship series each time with the exception of ’10. But they had failed to make the postseason in each of their first two seasons in the American Association, giving Salvi additional pause, and prompting him to issue just short of a playoffs-or-else edict.
Tagert and his team delivered, not stopping with simply a return to the postseason, but continuing to its first title in six years — its goal from the outset.
“Being out of the playoffs was very frustrating,” Salvi said. “The American Association is very competitive to get into the playoffs, and to beat teams as good as Fargo and Wichita, for Greg Tagert, the players, the staff, the fans, it was really just wonderful. We were overjoyed on Saturday night.
“After the game, I ran out on the field and we (he and Tagert) just hugged, and kind of wept together — tears of joy, of relief. We celebrated at a local establishment near the park — players, fans — and partied until 2 or 3. I just asked Greg, ‘How long do you want to manage?’”
Tagert — who completed his ninth season with the RailCats, having taken over in 2005 after leaving the Frontier League as its career leader in wins — has maintained his desire to remain with them for the foreseeable future. During his time in Gary, his resume includes the three titles, and Manager of the Year awards in 2007 and ’09; in his 18 career seasons, he has never had a losing record, with 50-50 in 2012 the low-water mark.
“There’s no better place for me,” said Tagert, whose extension signed before the 2010 season ran through ’13. “We’ve got something here that I feel very strongly about being a part of. ... I still feel so strong about what we can accomplish here.”
In additional to professional reasons, the personal side factors into the equation for Tagert. Before the 2008 season, he and his family moved to Chesterton from the Bay Area, and three of he and wife Mary’s four children reside in the region.
He also cites a family atmosphere that has been created around the team. Within minutes of securing the title on Saturday, he had received about 50 text messages and several phone calls from former RailCats players.
“That’s what I cherish most about this job — how important it is to the people who have been here,” Tagert said.
Unless something changes dramatically, he will continue to be with the RailCats. The understanding between Tagert and Salvi all along has been that they would talk once the season ended, playoffs or not. Salvi had business to attend in Washington, D.C., on Monday, then was planning to head to Avon, Ohio, near Cleveland, where the Schaumburg Boomers — another team he owns — will try to wrap up a Frontier League title on Tuesday night with a 2-0 series lead. Once it ends, the dialogue between Salvi and Tagert likely will begin in earnest.