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Huskies take new direction: Hersey gone after eight seasons

As a long-tenured, full-time coach, Duluth Huskies manager Daniel Hersey was a rarity in the Northwoods League. Now, after eight seasons, Hersey, 35, has been let go, the club announced Monday. "We're going in a little different direction," owner...

Hersey
Hersey

As a long-tenured, full-time coach, Duluth Huskies manager Daniel Hersey was a rarity in the Northwoods League.

Now, after eight seasons, Hersey, 35, has been let go, the club announced Monday.

"We're going in a little different direction," owner Michael Rosenzweig said. "We're going back to having summertime-based coaches."

Rosenzweig will retire from RBC Wealth Management at the end of October and will work with the Huskies full-time.

"Daniel has been with us for a long time, and we appreciate all he's done for us," Rosenzweig said. "I don't know if any other coach in the league has coached that long. It's a developmental league for everyone, not just the players, so for him to stay with one team that long is quite the record. We wish him all the best."

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Hersey, who is from Key West, Fla., and is married to a Minnesota native, couldn't be reached for comment.

The Huskies went 31-41 this season and attendance was down, averaging 1,343 per game, compared to a record 1,611 per contest in 2016.

Huskies general manager Greg Culver said weather was the biggest factor, with the Huskies having their first rainout in the three years since artificial turf was put in. Culver said gloomy conditions like last Thursday's game at Wade Stadium were typical of the season. Still, counting presale tickets, the official attendance for that game was 3,198.

"That weather that day summed up our season right there," Culver said. "June was awful."

Rosenzweig said the team is planning to push this offseason for funding of the second phase of the Wade Stadium renovation, upgrading the grandstand and concession area.

"It's a half-done project," Rosenzweig said. "I'll be working with the mayor to get the ballpark back on the front burner, and hopefully get some assistance from the state. We'd love to host the Northwoods League All-Star Game one day at this iconic ballpark."

Les Pajari, the Huskies' senior director of baseball operations, said the team will look to bring in more pitching next season.

"No matter what level of baseball, you can never have enough arms," Pajari said.

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One of the bright spots this summer was reliever Joe Gonrowski.

Gonrowski, who will be a senior at St. Scholastica, went 1-2 with four saves and a 2.60 ERA. While the Huskies' record wasn't good, Gonrowski said Hersey kept the team upbeat by reminding them that baseball is a game that should be fun.

"It was an up-and-down year as far as results go, but from an experience standpoint, I don't think there is a single guy in that locker room who is going to walk away not having had a great summer," Gonrowski said. "The bonds I made here are going to last a lot longer than just the three months I spent in Duluth. It was one of the better experiences of my life. It was amazing."

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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