Baseball Legend To Be on Dans Coaching Staff in 2022

The Danville Dans are excited to announce that renowned baseball coach Ron Polk will be part of their coaching staff for the 2022 season.

Polk has 52 years of experience coaching NCAA-D1 teams and has compiled one of the most successful winning records. His resume includes 1,373 wins, eight trips to the College World Series, six Hall of Fames inductions, and seven tours as a USA Baseball coach.

(Photo from Commercial-News: Mississippi State interim president Vance Watson, right, stands with baseball head coach Ron Polk during the pregame presentation which concluded Polk’s 29th baseball season on May 17, 2008.)

Coach Polk has coached at Georgia Southern University and University of Arizona but is most famous for his 29 years as head coach of the Mississippi State baseball team.  He has also coached summer baseball in the Cape Cod League for the last eight years.

With a total of 31 seasons as a head coach in the SEC, Polk is often referred to as the "Father of Southeastern Conference Baseball."

Polk’s unmatched expertise will benefit the college athletes from across the country who come to Danville, IL to develop their baseball skills during the upcoming Prospect League season.

"Anytime you get to work with a baseball legend like Coach Polk, it's an honor,” said Dans manager, Eric Coleman. “His knowledge of the game is second to none. We couldn't be more excited for our players and coaches to learn from him this summer."

Polk’s coaching technics get results. Nearly 200 of the players he has coached have signed professional baseball contracts, with 29 of those athletes played in Major League Baseball. Eight of those major leaguers were first round draft picks. This success is why his textbook, The Baseball Playbook, is the chosen teaching tool at 450 colleges and has sold more than 125,000 copies.

Polk has been a longtime friend of the Dans. About 33 years ago, he first sent one of his staff to coach in Danville. He even traveled to Danville to be a guest speaker at a local sports banquet.

“Our coaching staff and players will learn a lot from him.” said Rick Kurth, Danville Dans co-owner. “I believe his time here will lead to some pretty exciting games, too. After all, we’re all about player development and a fun time at the ballpark. It’s a genuine honor to have Ron Polk join the Danville Dans.”

Another Dan Becomes a Major Leaguer

For the second time in a week, a Danville Dan has made his MLB debut.

Relief pitcher Bryan Baker tossed a scoreless 8th inning September 5 for the Toronto Blue Jays in their win against the Oakland A’s. The 2014 Dan struck out one and allowed one hit during his inning.

Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 11th Round in 2016 as a junior out of North Florida. He was traded to the Blue Jays in 2018. At Triple-A, Baker was in 33 games with a 4-1 record and nine saves. He has struck out 40 while walking 16 with a 1.32 ERA.

Baker becomes the 31st Danville Dan to put on a major league uniform.

Rivas Becomes 30th Dan To Make It To The Majors

On Sunday, August 29, Alfonso Rivas - a 2016 Dan - went 2-3 as the starting 1st baseman for the Chicago Cubs. He hit a single on the first pitch he saw in the 3rd, and added a double in the 5th. He becomes the 30th Danville Dan to appear in a MLB game. The Arizona Wildcat was drafted by the Oakland A's in the 10th round of the 2018 draft, and was traded to the Cubs in January 2020. This summer at Triple-A Iowa, he hit .284 in 58 games. 

Four Dans Lead Prospect League All-Star Selections

The Danville Dans led the East Conference with four selections to the Prospect League’s 2021 Postseason All-Stars. They include:

  • Cooper McMurray, 1B, a sophomore at University of Kansas
  • Keenan Taylor, 3B, a sophomore now attending Parkland College
  • Angelo Peraza, C, a sophomore at University of San Diego
  • Jacob Leger, relief pitcher, a sophomore now at the University of Alabama.

The only other team in the league with four selections was the Western Conference Cape Catfish, who were the league champions.

 In addition to the all-star selections, other league awards were presented:

  • The Roland Hemond Pro Prospect of the Year and Starting Pitcher of the Year is Ryan Eiermann of the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp.
  • The Galen Woods Fireman of the Year, given to the league’s top reliever each season, is Anthony Klein of the O’Fallon Hoots.
  • The 2021 Mike Schmidt Player of the Year Jackson Jones of the Burlington Bees.
  • The 2021 Prospect League Manager of the Year, for a second-consecutive season, is Cape’s Steve Larkin, who guided the Catfish to the Prospect League Championship in the team’s second season.

The all-star teams and awards were voted on by the league’s 16 field managers.

Congrats to Coop, Keenan, Angelo and Jake!

DansShare Program Gives Back to Community

The DansShare program helps support area nonprofits, school and sports teams by having their group work in the concession stand or sell the 50-50 tickets. The concession groups receive a donation for their work, as well as accepting tips from hungry fans. Fans also purchase 50-50 tickets from other groups selling the chances during the games, with the selling group receiving a portion of the proceeds.

This year through DansShare, nearly $9,750 was given to these area nonprofits and sports teams during the 2021 season – a year that saw four home rainouts, or the total would have been higher.

Other community efforts this past season included hosting the ImpactLife Bloodmobile along with a COVID-19 vaccination drive in cooperation with the Vermilion County Health Department and the National Guard. The Dans also worked with our presenting sponsor, OSF Healthcare, to raise funds during their All Cancer Awareness Night on the last game of the season.

So just as Dans fans enjoy coming to the ballpark every summer, the Dans enjoy giving back to our community.


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