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Isom leaves the Crushers to manage closer to home

Isom leaves the Crushers to manage closer to home
December 2, 2013
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Jeff Isom came; he saw, and he came really close to conquering the Frontier League with the Lake Erie Crushers.

Now, in a flash, he’s gone just as quickly as he arrived. Isom agreed to take the managerial job for the Joliet Slammers just two months after guiding the Crushers to the Frontier League championship. The move, for him, is all about being near his family.

“I put my name in there to be close to home,” he said. “I saw the offer they put out there, the offer [Crushers’ General Manager Steven Edelson] put out to me, and it was tough. The thing that won out was proximity.”

Isom was only on a one-year deal with the Crushers, but after his success in year one, he expected to be with the team for a long time. In his 11 months as manager, Isom changed the culture of the team, guiding them back to the championship for the first time since 2009. The Crushers were swept in the series by the Schaumburg Boomers.

“If Joliet wasn’t available, I 100 percent would have been back with Lake Erie,” Isom said.

Isom is familiar with Joliet, as he managed there from 2004-2005, when they were known as the Joliet Jackhammers. In total, he has spent eight seasons in the Frontier League as manager for five different organizations: the Crushers, the Traverse City Beach Bums, Washington Wild Things, the now-extinct Canton Crocodile, and now the Slammers. He also managed in Joliet when they were called the ‘Jackhammers.’

In those eight seasons, Isom has never had as great a relationship with an owner as he had with the Crusher’s Edelson.

“There are some quality owners in this league,” he said, “but Steven has been at the top of that list. I’m gonna miss working with him that’s for sure.”

Edelson confirmed to Dan Gilles of the Chronicle-Telegram on November 20th that Isom would not be back as manager. The organization issued a joint-statement on the 25th to officially announce the change.

Isom has not yet had a chance to inform the players of his decision, but he plans to do so soon. Some of them are already aware of it based on hearsay. They’ll miss Isom’s presence in the clubhouse.

“An Isom led clubhouse was awesome. He always kept us relaxed and upbeat, he kept everyone at an even keel never getting too high or too low,” outfielder Seth Granger said. “I think he has the potential to help them a lot. He is going to bring in a group of guys that know how to play the game the right way, and if they buy in, they will have success.”

The Crushers went 56-40 in 2013, and won the first division title in the team’s five-year history. It was their second highest win total, behind just the 2009 championship team, which won 57 games.

Isom, 41, has been a professional manager for 14 seasons, all of which were at the minor league level. Prior to coming to the shores of Lake Erie, Isom spent six seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He previously managed in the Frontier League with the Canton Crocodiles from 2000-2001, the Washington Wild Things from 2002-2003, and the Traverse City Beach Bums in 2006.

Isom’s Crushers beat the Beach Bums three games to two in the 2013 divisional series. The Crushers’ next manager will be the third in franchise history, and the third in three seasons. Edelson is also searching for a new general manager.

Edelson could not be reached for comment, but Isom said with a laugh that he may be considering former Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners skipper Eric Wedge to be the team’s new manager. The comment was prompted when Isom was asked about his new organization’s public pursuit of former major league manager Ozzie Guillen. Isom laughed, and insisted that he beat out Guillen for the new job fair and square.

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