PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Suns will have a new manager in 2013, because the pull of family was just too much for Jamie Keefe.
Keefe, who was the team's general manager and field manager for its inaugural season, is giving up both positions to take a job as the assistant head coach at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. He will remain in his positions in Pittsfield until the end of the month.
Keefe, 39, led the Suns to a 27-25 record in their inaugural Futures Baseball League season. He has been part of the Pittsfield baseball scene since 2010, when he joined Brian Daubach's coaching staff with the Can-Am League's Pittsfield Colonials. Keefe replaced Daubach in 2011, leading the Colonials to a 53-39 record, a berth in the Can-Am League playoffs and winning the league's Manager of the Year award.
Keefe said the offer from UMass-Lowell was too good to pass up, and said it was as much a personal decision as a professional one. This way, he can be with his sons, Brigham and Brooks, more often.
"I'm almost 3 1 2 hours from my boys" in Pittsfield, Keefe said during a meeting in his office Wednesday. "The Goldklang Group has been wonderful, and every Friday they let me take off at 11 a.m. to go get them. It's still very tough. I don't get to see as many games as I want. I don't get to go to practices. Those are things I'm not able to do.
Keefe will replace Keith Beauregard, who has accepted a Division I coaching position at Santa Clara University. Beauregard was Keefe's bench coach in 2011 with the Colonials. The newest member of the UMass-Lowell staff will be working under head coach Ken Haring, who coaches Suns outfielder Jimmy Ricoy.
"It's bittersweet for the franchise," Suns owner Jeff Goldklang said in a statement. "You never want to lose a great baseball man, but his work has left us on very solid footing."
Kevin McGuire, who was hired as assistant general manager from the Goldklangs' team in Hudson Valley, will slide into the general manager's job. The search is now on for a new manager.
"By Thanksgiving would be good," said McGuire, when asked how long it might take to hire a new field manager. "By the time the college fall ball season ends, it would be good to have the [manager] in place so that we can look at the fall ball seasons for the kids and find who might be a good addition to our team."
Keefe said he was gratified by the response to the Suns by baseball fans in Pittsfield, Berkshire County and the region. He said the response to the summer season has been positive and local baseball fans have said they had "a great summer" watching the team.
That kind of response will help McGuire and the rest of the Suns staff in selling tickets and advertising for the 2013 season. A similar response by Suns players and their respective college coaches will help Keefe and his replacement finalize a roster.
Keefe said that while he is leaving in October, he would continue to be hands on when it comes to bringing players into Pittsfield for next summer. He said several of last year's Suns are seriously considering returning. Filling a roster will be far easier this year because of the length of time he's had to talk with coaches from coast to coast.
Keefe was the first person hired by the Goldklang Group and brought, according to the statement from the team, "instant credibility on the baseball side."
Along with the challenge of coaching college players and being around his sons, Keefe said that he's going to try and get a degree at Lowell.
"My goal in the next couple of years is to start cranking away at my education again," he said. "I just want to open more doors for myself."
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