TRAVERSE CITY -- There's an adage in the Major Leagues that catchers make the best managers.
Traverse City St. Francis is about to find out.
Former Major League catcher Doug Mirabelli was introduced on Monday as the new baseball coach for the Gladiators. This will be the first coaching position for Mirabelli, who won a pair of World Series titles playing for the Boston Red Sox. He played for four different teams in 12 seasons.
"I couldn't be more excited for our kids," St. Francis athletic director Tom Hardy said. "It's certainly outstanding that our kids get to learn from someone that played at the highest level and won the ultimate prize at that level twice. Even better than that, he's a great guy. He's a good Christian man that fits our values to a 'T.' "
Mirabelli could not be reached for comment on his appointment.
Hardy said Mirabelli told him his reasons for coaching were simple: A chance to build a program from the ground up and an opportunity to share his talent for baseball with others. Mirabelli conducted a pitching and catching clinic for the YMCA on Saturday.
St. Francis senior Joel Lints is looking forward to having a former Major League player in the dugout this season.
"It's great," Lints said. "He's going to have a wealth of knowledge."
"He'll be able to give the kids that want to play baseball an experience that is unmatched," Hardy added.
Lints is also anticipating the season because he, like his new coach, is a catcher by trade.
"It's exciting," Lints said. "I can't wait to work out with him. It's going to be great."
Optional small-squad sessions will begin at St. Francis on Jan. 17. Full-squad workouts can begin on March 9.
Mirabelli inherits a team that will be extremely young and inexperienced. St. Francis graduated seven senior starters from last season, when the Glads also didn't have enough for a junior varsity squad.
But that may be changing. Hardy said some 30 kids attended a meeting on Monday to introduce Mirabelli.
"To have that kind of interest right off the bat is great," Hardy said.
In addition, Hardy said Mirabelli has already reached out and made offers to retain last season's assistant coaches. Hardy indicated assistant Tom Hitchens plans to stay on for his 12th season with the Gladiators while part-time assistant Jason Smith is also expected to return.
Mirabelli takes over the program for Buzz Zammaron, who directed the team for two seasons.
In addition to his success with the Red Sox, Mirabelli has won at every level.
Mirabelli led Valley High School in Las Vegas to two state baseball titles. He was drafted out of high school by the Detroit Tigers in the sixth round of the 1989 amateur draft, but went on to play baseball at Wichita State.
In his three seasons with the Shockers, Mirabelli played in the College World Series final in 1991, losing 6-3 to Louisiana State.
Mirabelli, who was inducted into the Wichita State Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the fifth round in 1992.
After spending parts of three seasons in San Francisco, Mirabelli logged 82 games with the Giants in 2000. Mirabelli then played with the Texas Rangers before being dealt to the Boston Red Sox in June of 2001 after Jason Varitek was injured.
Mirabelli stayed with Boston through 2005, winning a World Series crown in 2004. Mirabelli, who became known as the personal catcher for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Boston, was traded to San Diego in 2006.
Eventually Mirabelli was dealt back to Boston in 2006, partly because of his ability to handle Wakefield, and stayed through Boston's World Series title in 2007.