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Eric Peterson, Published August 31 2012

RedHawks sign manager Simunic to new three-year contract

FARGO – The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks are getting at least three more years of Doug Simunic.

The American Association baseball club signed the longtime team manager to a new three-year contract with a two-year club option. Simunic officially signed his new deal in a ceremony held prior to Friday’s 8-2 loss against the Laredo Lemurs at Newman Outdoor Field before a sellout crowd of 5,438 fans.

“I enjoy the summer nights here,” Simunic said as he addressed the fans over the public-address system prior to the game’s first pitch. “I enjoy watching baseball in this stadium, and I enjoy bringing a good product here for you guys to watch.”

Simunic has been the RedHawks manager since the club started play in the Northern League in 1996. This latest contract locks up Simunic through at least the 2015 season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“When I finish that, that will be my 20th year,” Simunic told the crowd after he signed the contract on a table set up behind home plate.

The crowd, which was the largest this season and fourth-largest in franchise history, gave a loud ovation after team president Bruce Thom announced the RedHawks had reached a new agreement with Simunic.

“Add three more years on to that bad boy,” Simunic cracked.

Thom quickly pointed out the deal could last through the 2017 season with the team option.

“So give me five years folks,” Thom said.

Simunic has more than 1,000 wins in 20 seasons as an independent baseball manager. He started his managing career in 1993 with the Rochester Aces of the Northern League. Simunic has guided F-M to five league championships, all of which came in the Northern League. He’s led the RedHawks to the postseason in 15 of his 17 seasons, including this summer.

The RedHawks (63-34) have the best record in the American Association this season, clinching a North Division title.

“Success is very, very important to the RedHawks, and Doug understands success,” Thom said. “That’s why we were anxious to get this put together.”

RedHawks center fielder Nic Jackson was also honored prior to the game as he was presented with the American Association Player of the Year plaque.

“He’s had just solid consistency from Day 1, and he plays a premier spot in center field and does a good job of it,” Simunic said of Jackson.

Jackson is batting .303 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs in 96 games. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Jackson has also scored 74 runs and stolen 19 bases. Jackson won Northern League Player of the Year honors in 2009 while playing for the RedHawks. F-M moved from the NL into the American Association prior to the 2011 season.

“Kudos to Nic,” said RedHawks shortstop Zach Penprase, who is in his fifth season with the RedHawks. “We’re lucky to just have him on our team.”

The RedHawks start a three-game series at 6 tonight in Winnipeg to close out the regular season. F-M is then scheduled to host two opening-round playoff games next Wednesday and Thursday at Newman, the first two games in a best-of-5 series.

“This place is special to me,” Simunic said. “I don’t want to do it anywhere else. I feel fortunate to be around here for three more years.”

NOTES: The RedHawks drew 187,438 fans in 50 home dates this season. That is the second largest season total attendance in franchise history. … F-M had a 32-18 record at Newman this season. The RedHawks have a 31-16 road record heading into the final three regular-season games at Winnipeg.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com