Dan Ramsay, who has guided the Whitworth University baseball program for the last nine years, is leaving the school to become the manager of the Minnesota Twins' minor league team in the Gulf Coast League.
Ramsay will begin his duties next month at the Twins' spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida.
Tim Demant, Whitworth's Director of Athletics, and President Beck A. Taylor, moved quickly to name Pirate pitching coach CJ Perry as the school's interim head coach for the 2018 season.
The Twins contacted Ramsay earlier this month about the possibility of becoming a traveling coach within their system. Ramsay impressed the Twins with his character, intelligence and his understanding of the culture they intend to build throughout their organization enough that they instead decided to offer him the managerial position for their Gulf Coast League squad.
"This opportunity is yet another example of how God orchestrates our journeys," Ramsay said. "I am humbled and extremely excited to pursue what I consider a dream career in professional baseball."
The Gulf Coast League is a rookie-level minor league that operates in Florida. Teams in the league train and compete at the spring training complexes of their parent Major League club.
Ramsay went 183-181 in his nine years guiding the Pirates. Hired as Whitworth's baseball coach immediately after he graduated from the school, Ramsay guided the Bucs to three appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament and to the NCAA Division III World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin in 2012. He was the NCAA Division III West Region Coach of the Year in 2012.
In nine years at Whitworth, Ramsay coached a First Team All-American and two Third Team All-Americans, 25 All-Northwest Conference selections, ten ABCA All-West Region selections, one Academic All-American and four Academic All-District selections, one conference batting champion, one West Region Gold Glove Award winner, one Rawlings Gold Glove National Award winner, and had three players sign professional contracts.
"While we are disappointed to be losing a coach of Dan's caliber, we are excited for his new opportunity in professional baseball," Demant said. "Dan has grown into a great coach over the last ten years, not just in teaching the game, but more importantly in impacting the lives of young men. He will be missed."
For Ramsay, stepping away from his alma mater is not easy.
"It has been a privilege to serve alongside men and women who share the same passion for molding the lives of student-athletes as I do," Ramsay said. "I will be forever indebted to those who made this experience possible and grateful for the relationships I have made along the way. Whitworth has had an indescribable impact on my life."
Demant knew immediately that he had the right person waiting in the wings to take over as Whitworth's baseball coach this season.
"CJ is more than ready to be our next baseball coach," Demant said. "He has a tremendous understanding of the game and an amazing rapport with the players. He is a great ambassador for Whitworth and we are excited about what he will bring to the program."
Perry was heading into his fifth season Whitworth's top assistant coach with responsibilities for pitchers, outfielders and strength and conditioning. Perry graduated from Whitworth in 2012 and was a starting pitcher for the Pirate squad that advanced to the Division III World Series.
In 2015 Perry earned a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certificate through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
In 2016 Whitworth's pitchers led all of NCAA Division III in walks per nine innings (2.07) and that staff posted the lowest team ERA (3.95) since the school became NCAA Division III members in 1998. The 2017 Pirate staff ranked third in all of NCAA Division III in walks per nine innings (2.22).
Perry helped coach Dan Scheibe (2015) and Hugh Smith (2016) to All-Northwest Conference and All-West Region recognition.
Perry credits Ramsay for developing him as a coach.
"Dan has been an incredible mentor to me for the last five years, and my experience with, and knowledge of, the program has prepared me to take on this position," Perry said.
Perry will take over a Pirate squad that finished 24-17 in 2017, but has several key pieces back, along with a strong recruiting class. Whitworth will open the 2018 season in Shreveport, Louisiana at a tournament hosted by Centenary College.