Kevin Boles is back managing in Central New York.

The Syracuse Mets, Triple-A affiliate owned and operated by the National League baseball club that has residence in downstate Queens, is ready for their home opener Tuesday with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (New York Yankees  affiliate) at 6:35 pm at NBT Bank Stadium.  For longtime Utica baseball fans, there's a good chance the manager pacing in the Syracuse dugout this season will look familiar.

Think back to September 5, 2001. The final game of professional baseball played at Donovan Stadium finishes with a 7-4 loss for the Utica Blue Sox. The Lowell Spinners of the then New York-Penn League took their bus ride back to New England's Merrimack Valley victorious in the season finale.

That season in Utica, 39 players suited up for the Florida Marlins' affiliate, and a 26-year-old skipper, like his players, was learning the ins and outs of being a professional.  Boles, after just one season playing professionally for Williamsport (PA), as a 42nd-round amateur draft pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1998, read the proverbial writing on the stadium wall, getting past Class-A as a player wasn't in the cards.

Two years later, in 2000, Boles began his managing career in the Marlins' system in rookie ball.  The following season, hello Utica.

Boles' Blue Sox squad finished in sixth place in the McNamara Division. Long bus rides to towns as Auburn, Batavia, Jamestown, and Lowell reminded the young field boss what he was introduced to when playing  during his 20-game ( 7 hits, 3 RBIs) career with Williamsport.  Paying one's dues, players and managers alike, in baseball, bus rides are a prerequisite to making "The Show".

Fast forward two decades, now at 47, Boles has earned his way to one notch below the Major Leagues.

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Expectations are high in Syracuse for this season's International League play.  From tomorrow's season opener all the way through the season finale on September 28th's mid-week matinee hosting the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies top farm club), there is much excitement in Syracuse . Mets fans in Queens are doubling down on a playoff appearance this fall. With Syracuse, a Governors' Cup championship, the top prize in International League play, is on Central New York baseball fans' minds, too.

Boles has earned his stripes, at each level he has managed.  Most recently, the Sarasota, Florida native guided the Mets' Double-A club in Binghamton for the 2019 season. Prior to that, three seasons managing the Boston Red Sox's Portland Sea Dogs in New England, with future MLB stars Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts in his line-up cards. Throw in five seasons guiding Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox (including a Governors' Cup championship in 2014) with Mookie Betts on his team, and Boles' career progressed at a rate most future MLB managers could hope.

Syracuse's manager is a baseball pedigree.

John Boles, Kevin's father, during two terms, managed the Florida Marlins.(1996-'99 and 2000-2001).

Nine leagues, one dozen teams, plus in 2016 managing in the Australian Baseball League, Boles belongs in Syracuse. He's earned his latest professional promotion the old fashion way, developing baseball talent on the field and in the clubhouse. Building skills for the field and character for life beyond the game, 20 years after time spent with the Blue Sox, and Boles is ready for the next step of his career.

What's old is new in Central New York baseball circles, when reviewing the credentials of this season's Syracuse Mets' leader.

Welcome back, Kevin.

Kristine Bellino, WIBX
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Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com. 

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