WINNIPEG, MB - Number 22 hasn’t been seen on a Goldeyes jersey since 2005, and as of July 12th, no Goldeye will be able to wear that number again.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes announced they will retire uniform number “22” this summer in honour of former field manager Hal Lanier on Thursday, July 12th at Shaw Park.
It’s the fifth jersey number retired in franchise history, joining 2B Brian Duva’s #5, SS Max Poulin’s #6, RHP Donnie Smith’s #21, and RHP Andrew “Ace” Walker’s #31.
Lanier managed the Goldeyes for 10 seasons from 1996-2005, compiling an overall record of 523-361 (.592 winning percentage). The Denton, North Carolina native led the Goldeyes to nine winning seasons, eight playoff berths, and five trips to the Northern League Championship Series.
“Hal Lanier brought class and integrity to the Northern League,” said Goldeyes’ Owner/President Sam Katz. “The league originally told us we would never be able to land someone with Hal’s resume. Luckily, we didn’t listen to them, because Hal is one of the best things to have ever happened to the Goldeyes, and we are fortunate to have had someone of his stature leading our club.”
During his time with the Goldeyes, Lanier recruited and mentored players such as Jeff Zimmerman and Brian Myrow, who both began their professional careers under Lanier-led Goldeyes teams before making their way to the Major Leagues.
From the Goldeyes’ perspective, Lanier’s most impactful addition may have come in 1997 when he signed right-handed pitcher and current Goldeyes’ manager Rick Forney.
Twenty years before he led the Goldeyes to their third consecutive American Association title as Manager, Forney had established himself as one of the greatest pitchers in Goldeyes’ history, setting numerous major pitching records from 1997-2000. The Goldeyes skipper began as the club’s pitching coach (2000-05), before taking over for Lanier as Goldeyes manager for the 2006 season.
“As we celebrate the Goldeyes’ 25th anniversary, it’s important that we remember the people who helped make the Goldeyes what they are today,” said Goldeyes’ general manager Andrew Collier. “Hal brought his knowledge and experience as a Major League player and manager to the Goldeyes, and helped cement the team as a mainstay in the Winnipeg sports scene. I am very pleased that we will be honouring someone that was an integral part of our success both on and off the field.”
After retiring as a player in the late 1970’s, Lanier transitioned into a managerial role with the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization in 1977. Lanier skippered three winning seasons for St. Louis minor league affiliates before returning to the Majors in 1981 as the Cardinals’ third base coach. Lanier spent five years in this role under legendary manager Whitey Herzog, helping St. Louis to a World Series championship in 1982 and a return trip to the Fall Classic in 1985.
Lanier was then hired to manage the Houston Astros for the 1986 season. Houston finished 96-66, winning the National League West Division, and coming within two wins of reaching the World Series. The club featured National League Cy Young Award winner Mike Scott, as well as Hall of Famer and Major League Baseball’s all-time strikeout leader, Nolan Ryan. Lanier was voted National League Manager of the Year in 1986, and piloted the Astros for two more seasons.
The 75-year-old - who now resides in Florida during the off-season - is still going strong, recently signing an extension with the Ottawa Champions (Can-Am League), a position he’s held since 2015. Since leaving Winnipeg, Lanier has also made stops in the Frontier League with the Normal Cornbelters (2010-11), Sussex Skyhawks (Can-Am League, 2008,09), and the Joliet Jackhammers (Northern League, 2006-07), winning league titles with Sussex in 2008 and again with Ottawa in 2016.
In addition to his over 1,000 regular season and playoff games, Lanier has also managed multiple all-star games, including last July when he and Forney served as managers for the Can-Am League and American Association respectively.
Photo supplied by Winnipeg Goldeyes