The Will County CrackerJacks have announced that former Chicago Cubs outfielder and 1984 National League Gold Glove Award winner Bob Dernier has joined its baseball staff as the associate head coach and director of baseball operations.
The announcement came Thursday, the same day as the CrackerJacks' “Hot Stove Luncheon,” which featured Chicago Cubs play-by-play broadcaster Pat Hughes as the keynote speaker.
Dernier marks the third Cubs icon that has worked with the CrackerJacks since May 31, 2011. Aside from Hughes, former Cubs utility player and current broadcaster Keith Moreland served as the keynote speaker for the CrackerJacks 2011 “Lead-Off Luncheon.”
In his new role, Dernier will work with both the players and front office of the team on a daily basis.
“With the current level of talent that we have assembled on our roster over the last few months, we wanted to make sure that we had people with both Division I and Major League coaching experience within the organization,” said CrackerJacks President and General Manager Jamie Toole.
“We have kids on our team that have realistic chances of getting drafted by a Major League organization and I really feel that with Bobby [Dernier] and [manager] Vern [Hasty], the CrackerJacks can help these young men move closer to accomplishing their goals,” Toole said.
Dernier played in Major League Baseball for 10 seasons (1980-89), which included two stints with the Philadelphia Phillies (1980-83, 88-89) and one with the Chicago Cubs (1984-87). Dernier played in 122 games and stole 35 bases with the 1983 Phillies, a team that won the National League pennant and advanced to the World Series before losing to the Baltimore Orioles in five games. In the 1983 World Series, he appeared in the fourth game and scored a run.
On March 26, 1984, Dernier, along with Gary Matthews and Porfi Altamirano, was traded from the Phillies to the Cubs for Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz. The trade was executed just eight days before the Cubs opened up the 1984 season at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif., with a 5-3 win over the Giants. Dernier led off for the Cubs in the 1984 season-opener in front of Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and Matthews and went 1-for-4.
The 1984 season turned out to be a memorable one for both the Cubs and Dernier.
By season’s end, the Cubs finished 96-65 and won the National League Eastern Division over the New York Mets by 6.5 games. It was the club’s first playoff appearance since advancing to the World Series in 1945, a series that the team would eventually lose to the Detroit Tigers 4-3.
Dernier concluded his 1984 campaign with a .278 batting average, 149 hits and 45 stolen bases. More impressively, he made 355 putouts, posted five assists and committed just five errors as the everyday centerfielder for the Cubs. Dernier was awarded the National League Gold Glove Award for his efforts in 1984 and finished 17th in the Most Valuable Player Award voting.
In the 1984 NLCS, Dernier delivered four hits, including a home run, chalked up one RBI, scored five runs, drew five walks and stole two bases. The Cubs lost the series to the San Diego Padres 3-2.
Dernier played his final game in the big leagues on Oct. 1, 1989. He rejoined the Cubs organization in 2004 and worked with the club’s outfielders during Spring Training. From 2007-2010, Dernier served as the Cubs minor league outfielder and base running coordinator before being promoted to the major league coaching staff in August 2010. He represented the Cubs at the 2007 First-Year Player Draft in Orlando, Fla., and was the team’s first base coach during the 2011 season.
“I am excited to begin this journey with the Will County CrackerJacks,” Dernier said. “These young men with the CrackerJacks are working toward their dream of being drafted into a major league organization and working their way up to the big leagues. I look forward to working with these young men on a daily basis this summer and hopefully helping them get a step closer to fulfilling the dream.”
The CrackerJacks are members of the Midwest Collegiate League (MCL), a summer collegiate wood bat league based in the Chicagoland area. The MCL expanded to eight teams following its inaugural campaign in 2011 and the 2012 season opens up on June 1.
The CrackerJacks captured last year’s MCL Championship in its first year as an organization. They open up the 2012 season on June 1 in Flossmoor, Ill., against the Southland Vikings.