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Pinto surpasses Riordan as winningest manager in Frontier League

  • Miners manager Mike Pinto is presented a custom wine bottle from owner Jayne Simmons for becoming the Frontier League's all-time winningest manager.

    Miners manager Mike Pinto is presented a custom wine bottle from owner Jayne Simmons for becoming the Frontier League's all-time winningest manager.
    Justin Walker Photo

 
BY JOHN D. HOMAN
jhoman@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 6/6/2018 12:00 AM

MARION -- Mike Pinto continues to scale mountains in his 12th season as manager of the Southern Illinois Miners.

On Saturday, the Miners defeated arch rival Evansville, 7-5, and Pinto collected his 626th Frontier League win, pushing him into first place all time, replacing the retired Fran Riordan.

Pinto said it was a relief to earn the distinction and quickly doled out praise to the ownership team of Jayne and John Simmons and former club administrators Erik Haag and Tim Arseneau.

"They never interfered in my baseball decisions," Pinto said. "They never asked, 'Why did we do this move or why did we do that?' Not one time in 12 seasons and that's such a rarity in this game."

Pinto said he believes he has the best job in baseball.

"I've believed that since I started here," he said. "This is my Big League team. That's the way I envision this."

Pinto said he'd be lying if he didn't look at this scenario unfolding five years ago and realized how many wins it would take on the average per season to reach 626.

"Fran Riordan (formerly with Kalamazoo and Florence) was an incredible manager in this league, so it means a lot to me to have passed him," Pinto said.

Pinto said more than the wins, it's about the relationships he has made with players and coaches on his baseball journey.

"There is no idea how many messages I will receive the next 48 hours from former players and coaches once they hear this," he said. "All those relationships mean a lot to me. Ralph (assistant coach Santana) has been with me from the beginning, first as a player and then as a coach. A lot of guys have been a big part of my life."

Looking to the future, Pinto said he doesn't see himself leaving his job any time soon. He wants to continue to be successful as a manager of the Miners.

"The focus now is on winning another championship," he said.