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Cutters manager Borders has jersey retired

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Williamsport Crosscutters general manager Doug Estes, left, holds Crosscutter manager Pat Border’s framed jersey as it is retired during the Crosscutters’ annual Hot Stove Banquet at the Genetti Hotel on Wednesday. Middle is Borders, and right is Crosscutters’ Vice President of Marketing Gabe Sinicropi.

Pat Borders came to Williamsport in 2015 never having managed in professional baseball before. The former World Series MVP leaves Williamsport as the Crosscutters’ all-time leader in managerial wins.

It was announced Wednesday night at the Cutters’ annual Hot Stove Banquet that Borders has been re-assigned in the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization and will coach this summer with the Class A Clearwater Threshers. No replacement for Borders was named immediately.

Borders’ 186 managerial victories are the most in Williamsport Crosscutters history. His five years as manager are also the most in franchise history.

As a surprise last night during his interview with Cutters Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations Gabe Sinicropi, it was announced the Cutters will retire Borders’ No. 10 jersey. It becomes the fifth jersey number retired by the organization.

“I’m speechless,” Borders said as a framed jersey was presented to him by Cutters general manager Doug Estes and principal owner Peter Freund.

Borders is the first coach or player to have their jersey retired by the Cutters. No. 36 is retired in honor of Geremi Gonzalez, who was the first Williamsport Cub to reach the big leagues. No. 41 is retired for Dave Williams, who was the first former Cutters to reach Major League Baseball. No. 42 is retired for Jackie Robinson, and No. 59 is retired for Dave Bresnahan, artist of the famous Great Potato Caper.

Borders brought with him to Williamsport maybe the best playing credentials any Cutters manager has ever had. He had instant credibility with his players and allowed them to fail in order to grow as players.

Five of his players in Williamsport have reached the big leagues already — Jacob Waguespack, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin, Ranger Suarez and Adam Haseley. He guided the Cutters to a Pinckney Division championship in his first season in 2015, including a 10-game winning streak to open the season.

“The small town atmosphere here is like the one I grew up in,” Borders said before the banquet. “It always felt nice and homey here. The ballpark, there’s an old, nostalgic part of it. They dressed it up and made it nicer, but it still has that old-time feel as well.”

Managing in Williamsport was always ideal for Borders as he began his coaching career in professional baseball. With the youngest of his nine children just 6-years-old, coaching at the short-season level allowed Borders to get his feet wet in the profession while not having to spend six or seven months of the year away from his home in Florida.

Now, in his latest assignment from the Phillies in Clearwater, he’ll be just over an hour away from his home. Borders joked last night his wife, Kathy, will actually get to see him coach in a professional game now because she doesn’t like to fly and has never been to Williamsport.

Borders also used his time in Williamsport to figure out who he wanted to be as a coach and a manager. And who he became was a player-friendly manager who constantly gave his players different ways to think about their task at hand in order to get them to tap into their potential.

At Clearwater, he’ll return to full-season baseball for the first time since playing in the Dodgers organization in 2006.

“The players are going to be at an age now where they can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Borders said. “It’s not out of the realm of possibility that they go from A-ball to the big leagues in one year. So it’ll help to dangle that carrot in front of them and coach them into working harder and more efficiently.”

Borders said he’ll remember most the inviting nature of the people of Williamsport from his summers spent here. He recognizes the names and faces of the people who come to the ballpark every night and say hi. But he also enjoyed just the friendly hellos from people who had no idea who he was when he was out and about in the city.

He was initially scheduled to come back to Williamsport for his sixth season as the club’s manager, which is why he appeared at last night’s Hot Stove Banquet which raised more $6,000 for the West End Christian Community Center. But in a change last week, his assignment was switched. The Phillies have yet to announce any of the Crosscutters’ coaches for this summer.

Last night’s appearance turned into an opportunity for the Cutters to thank their manager, but also for the fans to give their thanks to a man who never shied away from a handshake or a photo in this baseball-crazed city.

“We are going to miss you my friend,” Sinicropi said during his interview with Borders, “but we congratulate you on going to long season A with the Clearwater Threshers.”

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