Jackson gets the nod as Silver Knights’ fifth manager
NASHUA – His training days are over.
Kyle Jackson has felt he’s been working the last few seasons as the Nashua Silver Knights pitching coach with the idea of eventually becoming the team’s manager.
Well, that came to fruition on Tuesday as the team announced Jackson will succeed the retiring B.J. Neverett as the the fifth manager in the Silver Knights history.
“I’m excited,” Jackson said. “It’s something I’ve worked for for a long time. I was talking to my wife and I said I never would have dreamed this six years ago, that it would turn into a summer career.”
Jackson, the 36-year-old former Alvirne High School standout and Red Sox minor league pitcher, was named as the team’s pitching coach six years ago and caught the managerial bug the last couple of seasons when he would fill in for then manager B.J. Neverett, usually for day games early in the season when Neverett had to tend to his full time teaching job.
“I loved it,” said Jackson, who went 7-1 in those games. “I want these kids to have fun, know that I’ll give them everything I have and that they will do the same and not worry about the consequences. The key is to have these kids buy into what I’m selling.”
What Jackson says he’ll be selling is an environment where the players can relax, play hard, and let their talents rise to the top. Neverett was highly successful, winning three Futures Collegiate League titles but the team the last couple of seasons has struggled on the field, losing in the first round of the playoffs. Jackson will be looking to reverse that trend.
“The last couple of years, we’ve had talent, but seeing it out on the field, the players weren’t themselves,” he said. “I want the energy level to be displayed on the field, so the fans see that.”
Of course, the question is, who will the fans see? Neverett for all nine years of the franchise has been the vice president of player personnel, working with college coaches to secure players. He gave up that position as well to make a clean break, and Jackson and newly appointed general manager Cam Cook will share those duties.
When Neverett announced he was leaving, Jackson was the obvious choice, but team management said it would let the dust settle before making a final decision public.
“I saw first hand this summer how he was about the game and getting the pitchers to give him their best,” Silver Knights owner John Creedon, Jr. said. “He’s got what it takes. … And I’m excited to see what he and Cam can do.”
“He’s the rightful heir to the throne,” Cook, the former Silver Knights third baseman, said. “Obviously the perfect guy for it. He has a great grasp of what we need, he knows the league and he’s ready to take it on.”
Jackson, of course, has the professional experience to back him up. After Alvirne, he played one year at a junior college in Florida after the Red Sox had taken him in the 32nd round of the 2001 draft, on a “draft and follow”. He signed after that first year of school and spent six years in the Red Sox system, reaching Double A , before injuries took their toll. He played two more seasons of independent ball with the Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish and Long Island Ducks.
Jackson’s other coaching experience has been a year as the Nashua High School South JV coach. He said he’ll certainly have his own style, but “will take something from each of the managers I worked with. I want this team to represent me, how I was as a player and am as a coach.”
As for staff makeup, Jackson isn’t sure to what degree he will still handle the pitchers, as it may depend on the makeup of his staff. He said he has two potential coaches under consideration for one spot, one that is more position player oriented and another who is “a pitching guy.”
It’s the second time the franchise has tabbed its pitching coach for the manager’s job, as J.P. Pyne was promoted following the 2012 championship season.
As for the player procurement, Jackson has been busy already making contact with college coaches, splitting those duties with Cook. He has had a slight hand in some players coming to Nashua in the past.
“I’ve been talking to coaches and I’m going to talk to coachaes that we used to get players from,” Jackson said. “These coaches know who I am, but some don’t know a lot about me.
“The thing is, I want a player to go back to his coach saying he learned something, had a great time, and that he either wants to go back or that his school should send more players here.”
Jackson also wants his players to be more involved in the community once the season begins, helping to attract kids and their families to Holman Stadium. He is now the longest tenured Silver Knights employee other than official scorer Luke Fortier, and possibly the longest tenured coach in the FCBL.
“It flies by,” Jackson said, “but I’ve stayed true to myself.”