Austin will return to manage next season
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September 27, 2011 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – The “Franchise” will remain the skipper in 2012.

The Rockford RiverHawks announced Tuesday that manager Rich Austin will return to man the helm next season. Austin was named the RiverHawks’ fourth manager in team history on April 8.

Austin, 34, played for the RiverHawks in 2002-04 and again in 2010. He was the Frontier League Player of the Year in 2004, when the RiverHawks won Rockford’s only professional baseball championship of the last half-century.

“I am very thankful to have another opportunity to manage in 2012,” Austin said. “I helped bring a championship to Rockford as a player in 2004, and now as a manager I want to do the same thing. The first year was a learning experience, but I’ve got a jump start on next season to put the team in a position to be successful.”

“The Frontier League has become one of the strongest independent leagues in the country, and Rich knows this as well as anybody else,” majority owner Chris Hanners said. “I am sure Rich learned a lot in his first year. Last season was not up to his or our expectations, but we’ve made some moves to position ourselves to contend for a championship in 2012. That is just one of many changes our fans will see when they come out next season.”

Austin finished his career with a .304 average, 104 home runs and 524 RBI. He holds the RiverHawks’ career record for walks (247) and is second on the home-run (41), RBI (204), runs (225), hits (340) and outfield-assists (28) lists. Austin played in all-star games in 2004-07, and was named to end-of-year all-star teams in 2004, 2005 and 2008.

Austin spent half of his 10-year playing career with the organization. He broke into pro ball in 2001 with the Springfield Capitals, who relocated to Marinelli Field in Rockford and became the RiverHawks following the season. Austin also played internationally in Mexico, Colombia and Italy.

Along with his managerial duties, Austin will continue to make community appearances on the team’s behalf.

“Rockford has been great to me, and the appearances let people in the community know that we have a commitment to the area,” Austin said. “We are always willing to go out and be part of the community.”

The remainder of the coaching staff will be announced at a later date.

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 20th season in 2012. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit www.rockfordriverhawks.com.


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