Wrapping up one of their best seasons in franchise history, a key member of the Los Angeles Dodgers Low-A Great Lakes Loons affiliate recently earned some well-deserved recognition. John Shoemaker, in his fourth year at the helm, was named Midwest League Manager of the Year.
Shoemaker, in the midst of his 43rd season with the organization, has managed over 3,000 Minor League games dating back to 1997. Prior to his coaching days, he played second base in the Dodgers farm system from 1977-80.
Shoemaker returned to the Loons in 2018 for the start of a second stint with the franchise. He additionally managed Great Lakes from 2011-12.
When the 63-year-old reached agreement to return to the Loons for the 2019 campaign, Shoemaker became the first skipper to stay with the team for more than one season since his initial stint. Over his first three seasons as manager, he compiled a 199-219 record.
Great Lakes, with an overall record of 77-52 this season, sit at the top of the Midwest League Eastern standings. Propelled by a franchise-best 43-24 record and .642 win percentage in the first half, the team clinched an early playoff spot for the first time since 2015.
With only 11 games remaining in the second half, the Loons will look to finish the 2019 season on a strong note. At 34-28, the team enters Monday only 3.5 games out of first place, trailing the Bowling Green Hot Rods and South Bend Cubs.
Having already secured a postseason berth, the Loons hope to redeem themselves from last year’s premature exit. Great Lakes’ run came to an end in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs after suffering a sweep at the hands of the West Michigan Whitecaps.
It marked Shoemaker’s first trip to the MWL playoffs in three tries, having failed to get over the hump during his first run with the franchise.
Prior to being named Midwest League Manager of the Year, Shoemaker earned the Mike Coolbaugh Award in 2015 — an honor that is presented annually to an individual who has shown “outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field.”
The Loons won their first and only MWL championship in 2016 under Gil Velazquez, who is now an infield coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks.