Rocket Wheeler named 2021 Sod Squad team manager

Local News

Rocket Wheeler, via HODGETOWN

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Former infielder and longtime minor-league skipper Ralph “Rocket” Wheeler has been named the manager of the 2021 Amarillo Sod Squad summer collegiate wood-bat team.

The 2021 Texas Collegiate League season for the Sod Squad is set to begin on May 28 at HODGETOWN.

“We are excited to have Rocket lead our 2021 Sod Squad players,” said Tony Ensor, Sod Poodles President and General Manager. “His tremendous background in and knowledge of professional baseball will be a great asset to these young college athletes who aspire to make it to the next level!”

Wheeler, 66, is set to enter his first season as a collegiate summer team manager after spending 27 seasons as a minor league manager for Toronto, Atlanta, and Washington.

The Houston native is a former infielder with the Toronto Blue Jays system. Wheeler was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977. He played in the Blue Jays farm system until 1982, including stints with the Florence Blue Jays and the Kinston Eagles. He was honored by the Kinston Indians by being inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

He stayed with the Blue Jays system when he began his managerial career in 1985 at age 30, managing the Medicine Hat Blue Jays (1988-89), the GCL Blue Jays (1995), the St. Catharines Stompers (1996-97), the Dunedin Blue Jays (1998-99), and the Tennessee Smokies (2000-02). After the 2002 season, Wheeler moved over to the Atlanta Braves farm system managing the Rome Braves (2003–05) and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (2006-2010) as well as Mississippi (2011), GCL Braves (2012-14),
Danville (2015), Carolina (2016), and Rome (2018). He spent the 2019 season as Auburn’s manager with Washington.

Wheeler attended the University of Houston where he obtained his nickname “Rocket” for his speed and hustle.

The Sod Squad will open the 2021 season on Friday, May 28 at HODGETOWN against the Brazos Valley Bombers.

For tickets, visit www.sodpoodles.com, call 806-803-9547, or visit the HODGETOWN box. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Group and hospitality options are now available for booking at HODGETOWN. For inquiries or questions about groups of 20 or more, reach out to groups@sodpoodles.com.

HODGETOWN’s comprehensive safety plan that will be adhered to for all 2021 baseball games at HODGETOWN can be found HERE.

The TCL is currently represented by 250-plus players from 91 different colleges and universities. Some of the more nationally recognized schools sending their standouts to the TCL include Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Cal State Fullerton, Dallas Baptist, Houston, Long Beach State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts, Pacific, Rice, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas-Arlington, Texas State, Texas Tech, and Wichita State, among others.

The Texas Collegiate League is Texas’ first major collegiate summer wooden bat league and have played 18 seasons.


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