Matt burch to manage elmira again and bill buckner to make appearance university of kansas masters programs

While major league baseball celebrated its opening day thursday, the elmira pioneers delivered some fastballs of their own, not to mention a curveball or two.

The perfect game collegiate baseball league team made a series of announcements at kahunas bar and grill in elmira, including the return of matt burch for his third stint as manager and an appearance by former major league star bill buckner at the team’s fourth annual hot stove dinner next month.

Other announcements included elmira hosting this year’s PGCBL all-star game and a wounded warrior amputee softball team game during the same week in july.

Also, it was revealed robbie and nellie nichols are now sole owners of the pioneers after buying out partner don lewis at the start of the year.

Robbie nichols has high hopes for 2018.

"We want to win a championship," he said. "Elmira deserves a championship.Dunn field the team has been here since 1888, so no better time to win a championship than in our 130th season. We’re looking forward to it."

Burch, 41, is back as manager after taking last year off because of family obligations, though he remained a consultant for the pioneers. He previously managed the pioneers from 2006 to 2008 and from 2013 to 2016. Burch guided elmira to the new york collegiate baseball league title in 2007 and the PGCBL west division title in 2013 during a run of four straight playoff trips under burch. He was a player/pitching coach for the pioneers in 2004, when they were an independent professional team in the northeast league.

He jokingly compared his situation with the pioneers to billy martin’s famous on-again, off-again status as new york yankees manager under george steinbrenner in the 1970s and 1980s.Dunn field

"This is weird. It’s like a billy martin kind of thing," burch said. "It is a unique opportunity and I’m fortunate that robbie and nellie, they reached out to me. We never really had any kind of divorce. I was still on board as a consultant. We communicated all last summer and brian hill and I, we’ve been really good friends since we coached together in 2006."

Burch was a dominant pitcher for thomas A. Edison high school in elmira heights and later starred for virginia commonwealth university. He was drafted in the first round by the kansas city royals in 1998.

"I feel that I have something to offer the players coming in," burch said. "I’m from here. I feel I want to help this community have something successful."

Burch resigned a manager after the 2016 season to spend more time with his two sons, landen, now 13, and larsen, 11.Robbie nichols burch said the boys missed being around the pioneers and he and his wife, shannon, have found a way to balance their schedules to allow matt to manage again. Matt is also a full-time english teacher at corning-painted post high school, where he coaches modified football, JV girls basketball and is an assistant varsity baseball coach.

"The most important factor when I did resign a couple of years ago was the fact my boys were progressing through a baseball system themselves," burch said. "It was pretty unfair at that time to expect my wife to shoulder all that burden. We’ve come to manage our family a little bit differently.

"My wife, being very important in this decision, and the fact we’ve been able to balance what we’re going to do with our boys this summer. They were a big part in factoring into this decision as well."

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Burch added he missed the competitive aspect of managing the pioneers, with his family also enjoying that part of his job. He added that his biggest priority as manager is to help the team’s players prepare to reach the next level of baseball.

"Just the baseball side of it is the fact you get to coach these guys who want to achieve something," he said. "I feel an obligation to come here – and I’m willing and able. I want to help them do something. I really root for them to do well."

Hill, who managed the pioneers last year, will return as associate coach after guiding elmira to a 27-23 record and a playoff berth last season.

"There was a time where I was the manager here in elmira and brian was my assistant coach," burch said. "There was a time where brian was the head coach at corning community college and I was his assistant coach.Dunn field we do have labels in the game program, but we have a system between ourselves. It’s unspeakable. He knows to do this, I know to do this."

Burch has 31 players committed to the pioneers who are now competing for their regular college teams. Player announcements will be coming over the next several weeks.

Said robbie nichols: "brian hill did an awesome job while matt was away for the one year, but matt runs it like a professional team. The players enjoy that. The players want to be worked out every day, practice every day and matt brings that back, so we’re excited."

"Eugene was a kid I taught in school at one point," burch said. "He was involved in mike bennett’s program at elmira heights. Adding another college baseball mind into it, that will serve us well. The point of all this is to help these incoming players use elmira as a steppingstone to get where they want to go." buckner to speak

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Tickets for the dinner or a VIP meet and greet with buckner that precedes it can be purchased by calling the pioneers front office at 607-734-2690. Tickets are $50 for the dinner and $50 for the meet and greet. The event is presented by hilliard corporation and the arnot mall.

Buckner, 68, played for five teams during a major league career that spanned from 1969 to 1990. He was a career .289 hitter who finished with 2,715 hits and won a batting title in 1980 with the chicago cubs. He is remembered in large part for his error that allowed the new york mets to score the winning run in game 6 of the 1986 world series against the boston red sox.

"He’s went through so much," robbie nichols said. "You hear all the highs in sports and the lows in sports. Bill had death threats after he kicked the ball and missed the ball against the mets.Burch said what he had to go through his entire career. He was booed a lot by red sox fans. … He was an all-star, he won the batting crown one year and people remember him because he missed one ball. I think he’ll have a great story to tell."

The pioneers’ home of dunn field will host the PGCBL all-star game on july 18. The players will also perform activities in front of major league scouts and there will be a pre-game home run competition. The event is presented by hilliard and southerntier custom fabricators.

"For the last six seasons, the pioneers have been the most dynamic collegiate league organization in new york," PGCBL president robert julian said in a press release. "Dunn field has undergone more than $600,000 in renovations and their fan base is the largest in, not just the PGCBL, but in all of new york collegiate baseball and attendance has been in the top three in the USA.Robbie nichols it’s going to be a spectacular, amazing evening."

Dunn field will then host the wounded warrior amputee softball team (WWAST) at 7:05 p.M. July 21. The organization includes amputee veterans and active duty servicemen and servicewomen who compete against able-bodied teams in exhibition softball games. Dunn field hosted a sold-out WWAST game in 2016. This year’s game will be sponsored by hilliard corporation and elmira’s ziff law firm.

Elmira also hosted the PGCBL all-star game in 2011 and 2014. During the 2014 event, elmira had nine players participate and thomas A. Edison graduate zac bellinger of the pioneers won the home run derby.

"It was a memorable time for us," burch said. "I don’t think we can recapture any of those moments, but I look forward to having some more moments in the future that we’ll recall in the years to come."

Robbie nichols

Said robbie nichols: “the fans loved coming to the all-star game and we want to do the league proud and show them we’ll have another sellout this year."

Burch also recalled the emotional impact the WWAST event had on everyone two years ago. Robbie nichols said that was a big reason the event is coming back.

"They’re veterans that are injured and amputees," nichols said. "It’s just amazing. We had motorcycles bring them in and fire trucks and police cars. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. When you see these guys out there and what they do for our country, then they’re out there playing baseball, it’s amazing to bring the wounded warriors back."

• dunn field will host the fifth annual dunn field classic from may 25 to 28. The baseball tournament includes teams in seven divisions, spanning from 10-under to 16-under.Robbie nichols teams in years past have come from buffalo, rochester, binghamton and elsewhere, in addition to elmira-area teams.

• the pioneers open their season at home at 7:05 p.M. June 1 against the newark pilots. Elmira is also home june 2 against jamestown. Both nights will feature fireworks.