AVON — There was a surprise announcement Thursday by the Crushers regarding a man who needs no introduction in Northeastern Ohio. In fact, most people already know him by his nickname, “Super Joe.”
Lake Erie named former Indians outfielder and 1980 American League Rookie of the Year Joe Charboneau as the new hitting instructor.
Charboneau’s history with Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo dates back to the late 1990s when Charboneau was Mongiardo’s summer-league coach while he was playing baseball at Kent State.
They continued their player-coach relationship with the Frontier League’s Canton Crocodiles in 1999. In 2001-02 both were on Fran Riordan’s coaching staff with the Richmond (Ind.) Roosters.
“For Chris and I to be together again is an honor. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work,” Charboneau said. “The Frontier League has been special to me. It’s where I got my first real job in the minor leagues.”
Charboneau, 58, who said he lives less than 10 minutes from All Pro Freight Stadium, is looking forward to his wife, Cindi, his daughter and six grandchildren all being able to attend Lake Erie games this summer.
“We’re family entertainment and when you view yourself in that manner you always hope to attract notable people to be a part of your organization,” Lake Erie owner and managing partner Steven Edelson said. “People who everyone want to meet but never get the chance to meet. I expect (Joe) to help both on the baseball side and to be a personality in this community.”
Edelson noted that Charboneau will also assist new Lake Erie general manager Rick Muntean and the Crushers sales staff as a community liaison.
Charboneau spent parts of the last three summers as a hitting coach for the Lorain County Ironmen, a summer college team that plays in the Prospect League. The team is owned by his former Indians teammate Kevin Rhomberg.
In his nearly two-decade involvement with the Frontier League, Charboneau has seen a steady improvement in the on-field product.
“The Frontier League has gotten more sophisticated and attracts better ballplayers today,” he said. “It’s taken much more serious by major league organizations. Their talent scouts see this as part of their territory and they are actively scouting the Frontier League. It’s come a long way over the years.”
Mongiardo noted that Charboneau, who played 228 games over three seasons in the Indians outfield, will also be working with the Crushers outfielders on their defensive skills.