Royals Hire Hillman

From the Royals Media Relations Department:

Kansas City, MO (October 19, 2007) – The Kansas City Royals today announced they have reached an agreement on a multi-year contract with Trey Hillman as manager. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Hillman, 44, is currently managing the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan’s Pacific League and will be introduced to the Kansas City media in a 2 p.m. press conference on Monday in the interview room at Kauffman Stadium.

“I am delighted to announce that we have hired Trey Hillman as our manager,” said Dayton Moore, Senior Vice President and General Manager. “He is an exceptional person with a great passion to lead. He is the perfect choice for our organization.

“Trey has spent the last five seasons turning the Nippon Ham Fighters into one of the top success stories in Japanese baseball, including three trips to the post-season,” Moore added. “In fact, the reason we are unable to introduce Trey today is because his club has just advanced to the finals of the Japan Series, where they will resume play on October 27. We also want to respect the fact that the Indians and Red Sox are in a battle for the American League title and we don’t want to do anything to detract from the excitement of that series.”

Hillman, a native of Arlington, Texas, will be traveling from Japan over the next couple of days, but provided a comment regarding his new role as the manager of the Royals.

“This is a wonderful blessing and a great opportunity to build a winner in Kansas City,” said Hillman. “I’ll be joining an organization with tradition and pride while working with individuals that share my vision for success.”

Hillman attended the University of Texas-Arlington, earning All-Southland Conference honors as a shortstop for three seasons. He was inducted into the UTA Athletic Hall of Honor in 1992. He signed as a free agent with the Indians in 1985 and played in their system for three seasons. After spending the 1987-88 seasons as a scout for Cleveland, Hillman’s coaching career took off. His first role was as a coach for a Prince William club that won the Carolina League Championship crown in 1989.

He followed with his first of 11 consecutive years as a manager in the New York Yankees’ chain, starting as a 27-year-old skipper and recording a first-place finish with Oneonta (A) in 1990 and running through the 2001 campaign with Columbus (AAA). His three years at Columbus featured a 225-203 record, including an International League best 85-58 mark in 1999 and league Manager of the Year honors in 2000. He also earned the honor in 1996 in the Florida State League, and was voted Baseball America’s Class A Manager of the Year.

Hillman then became a very popular figure in Japan, leading the Ham Fighters from a stretch of dismal campaigns to a composite 351-324 mark (.520 winning percentage) over five seasons, going to the post-season on three occasions, including a Japan Series title in 2006. His efforts were rewarded when he was named the 2006 Japan “Sportsman of the Year” by the 2006 Foreign Sportswriters of Japan.

On Thursday night in Japan, Hillman’s club defeated Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines to take the Pacific League championship and advance to the 2007 Japan Series final that will begin next week.

“We would be remiss if the Kansas City Royals didn’t thank the Nippon Ham Fighters for graciously allowing this process to take place during a very exciting and busy time in their season,” added Moore. “We wish them the very best as they continue their march to what all of us hope is a second consecutive Japan League title.”

Hillman and his wife, Marie, have two children, T.J. and Brianna, and make their home in Arlington.

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