Thunder Bay Border Cats appoint JM Kelly as new manager

The new Thunder Bay Border Cats field manager says the team will definitely make its presence known in the community next season.

The team has announced that JM Kelly of Buna, Texas will be the team’s next on-field manager as it begins to ramp up operations ahead of its first season since shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 .

« It’s going to be a lot of fun, » Kelly said. « We’re going to be super interactive with the fans and the community.

« You will see us wherever we may have the opportunity to be. People need us to come and speak or help out at an event, we will. »

Kelly brings a wealth of baseball experience to the team, coaching at colleges and universities across the United States. He is currently an assistant coach at Texas A&M University – Kingsville, and has coached at Charleston Southern University, Northern Oklahoma – Tonkawa Junior College and Carl Albert State Junior College.

At the end of the day, what people will see is that we will have a lot of fun and have a very good relationship as a ball club.– JM Kelly, Border Cats Manager

He coached the North Platte Plainsmen of the Independence League in 2022 and was an associate scout with the Houston Astros from 2019-2021.

Kelly said his relationships with various college baseball programs have been a huge help in recruiting and fans can expect to see many NCAA Division 1 players on the team’s roster.

« We have guys who can hit the ball out of bounds, » he said. « We’ve got guys who can run, we’ve got guys who can run up there on the mound. But I think at the end of the day what people will see is we’ll have a lot of fun, and have a very good relationship as a ball club. »

Border Cats vice president Bryan Graham said Kelly is actually set to join the team as an assistant coach in 2022, working with Mike Steed, who the Cats signed to be their manager.

However, the Cats spent three seasons — 2020-22 — on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Steed ended up joining the Atlanta Braves organization as a minor league pitching coach.

Steed recommended Kelly as the Cats’ new manager, Graham said.

« We went through the interview process, we looked at JM and he just ticked all the boxes that were looking for our new manager, » Graham said. « Also, he had already committed to coming to Thunder Bay in 2022, which meant a lot to us. »

« It was a very simple process and a good decision for us to hire him as the ball club manager in 2023. »


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