After paying his dues in the minor leagues for nine years in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, Brett Butler - the 17-year major league veteran - is headed back to the big leagues, this time as a third base coach and outfield coach for the Miami Marlins. He will also be the team's baserunning and bunting instructor.
The 56-year-old has been the manager of Arizona's Triple-A team, Reno, since 2009, leading them to the 2012 Pacific Coast League Championship and the ‘12 Triple-A National Championship.
He called the move to Miami "bittersweet" because he loves Reno and says he has built great relationships there. But he's been hoping for a return to the big leagues for quite some time.
Butler, who is known in the clubhouse as "Bugsy," played in the big leagues from 1981-97 for the Braves, Indians, Giants, Dodgers and Mets. The scrappy outfielder, who went on to play in the 1991 All-Star game, hit .290 for his career while picking up 2,375 hits and stealing 558 bases (25th all-time).
Toward the end of his career, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and after surviving that, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the mid-2000s. He survived that, and then suffered a mild stroke in 2007. He was able to come back from that as well.
I had a chance to talk to Butler in his office just a few hours before Reno won the 2012 PCL Championship against Omaha. I asked him about a myriad of topics, including whether he was still passionate and hopeful about getting his shot to manage in the big leagues. He had clearly given it a lot of thought.
"I believe we'll win today," he said. "And I believe we'll go to Durham and we'll win [the Triple-A National Championship]. And my desire is to manage in the big leagues. I want to get an interview and to get a chance to walk in the door and try to make a difference in players' lives at the next level."
The interview with Miami came a year later than he hoped, and it wasn't for a managerial position, but he's one step closer to seeing his dream realized. Given how much he has been through, and how patiently he has waited for his shot, it'll be nice to see him don a big league uniform again.