BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The Burlington Sock Puppets announced this morning that former Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell will be leading the newly rebranded team during its inaugural season this summer. McDowell, who spent 12 years in the big leagues, has recently managed in the Los Angeles Dodgers system (Ogden and Arizona League) as well as Queen's University in Charlotte.
“As a lifelong participant in the game of baseball, as both a coach and a player, I am thrilled to be managing the Burlington Sock Puppets this summer,” McDowell said. “It is fulfilling to coach players looking to improve their skills and knowledge of our game. This opportunity is meaningful for me, and I cannot wait to impact the lives of countless collegiate baseball players in the Appalachian League this year. It is going to be a positive and fun season!”
Jack McDowell brings more than a decade of coaching experience at multiple levels to the Burlington Sock Puppets. Most recently, McDowell served as the first-ever head coach at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., from 2018-2019. After coaching his first season at the club level in 2018, McDowell kicked off the program’s introduction to NCAA Division II in 2019 by knocking off two nationally ranked opponents in No. 23 University of Mount Olive and No. 14 Catawba College. From 2000-09, he coached youth baseball and led San Dieguito Academy from 2006-2013, reaching 27 wins in 2013 and capping off the season as California Interscholastic Federation runners-up. Since then he has managed the Ogden Raptors Advanced Rookie team in Los Angeles and the Dodgers AZL Rookie team, both of which finished as second-half champions under McDowell’s guidance.
In addition to his coaching experience, McDowell also brings a wealth of playing experience to the Sock Puppets.
At Stanford University, he was named co-Freshman of the Year in 1985 and led the Cardinals to the College World Series Championship in 1987. After being drafted by the Chicago White Sox with the fifth overall pick in the 1987 amateur draft, McDowell played only six games in the Minor Leagues before making his Major League debut on Sept. 15, 1987. He pitched seven shutout innings against the Minnesota Twins in his debut to earn the win and finished the season with a 3-0 record and a 1.93 ERA in four starts.
Throughout his 12-year big league career, McDowell made 277 appearances and started 275 games on the mound, compiling a 127-87 record, and totaling 1,311 strikeouts for four different clubs. McDowell’s success translated into being a three-time All-Star (1991-1993) and winning the American League Cy Young Award in 1993 (finished top 10 in voting for the 1991 season and runner-up in 1992).
"We couldn't be more thrilled to have someone leading our team with a resume quite lack Jack's," general manager Anderson Rathbun said, "To have someone with a track record of success both playing and coaching, it's going to be a lot of fun watching him bring together a bunch of tremendous young men this year. Not to mention having someone with as many unique hidden talents as Jack.... let's just say it'll be fun for our fans to interact with him hopefully for years to come."
You can catch the former Cy Young Award Winner this summer at Burlington Athletic Stadium and around the Appalachian League as the Sock Puppets get set to take the stage for their inaugural summer season June 3, 2021, in Princeton with their home opener in Burlington on June 5.