Pelicans manager Mikulik gets historic 1,000th win

pel-mikulikMyrtle Beach Pelicans Manager Joe Mikulik is in his first season with club, yet accomplished something that no Pelicans skipper ever has—win his 1,000th game wearing the Pelicans uniform.
With an incredible come-from-behind 7-5 win over the Potomac Nationals, Mikulik etched his name into the history books and hit a milestone that he says, might be the biggest in his career.

“This milestone is pretty high on the list. The longevity of it all is something that I am proud of. It’s high up there because it’s really a team award. You are going to win and lose, but the bottom line is the relationships you get to build in this game—that’s the biggest thing. I get to share this with everyone I work with. It means more to me than individual awards,” explained Mikulik. “I remember my 1,000th hit as a player. That was a great accomplishment, but this means way more than that. ”

The event was especially rewarding for him because, as he explained, it gives him a chance to remind those who have helped him along the way, how much their efforts mean.

“It’s not a one person accomplishment. When you win 1,000 games, sure I get the record, but all of the help is how you win those games. The hitting coach, the pitching coach, the trainer, the strength coach, the fourth coach, the clubhouse manager, the front office of the minor league team—they are a big part of the wins as well. Their efforts so often go unnoticed, and I try to remember that. It’s a team accomplishment.”

Making the sweet even sweeter, the Pelicans captured the big win for Mikulik with a four-run ninth inning rally and an extra-innings win.

“I have been a part of a lot games, but that game was wild. I thought it was the best win of the year for this team, and I was really proud of those players,” he added.

Mikulik knew that he was close to 1,000 wins but thought few others knew. When the final out was recorded, it was special moment for the skipper, but even more so when his team shared the moment with him: “it was emotional the way the guys congratulated me after the game. [Second baseman] Christopher Bostick gave me the ball after the game. I wanted that ball, and was going to try and get it, but I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it. It was really special that the team did that,” Mikulik said.

Beginning his managerial career with the Burlington Indians in 1997, Mikulik notched most of his 1,000 victories at the helm of the Rockies’ Class-A Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League. In his 13-year run as Asheville manager, Mikulik compiled the most wins of any manager in Asheville and South Atlantic League history and was named the South Atlantic League Manager of the Year in 2001, 2007, 2008, and 2012. He also appeared in the Sally League All-Star Game as both a player (1985) and a manager (2000, 2002, 2007, and 2008).

His Tourists teams made the postseason on four occasions with first half division titles in 2008 and 2012 and second half titles in 2001 and 2009. In 2012, he led the Tourists to the South Atlantic League championship, their third in team history and first since 2001.  In 2009, Mikulik was inducted into South Atlantic League Hall of Fame.

This is Mikulik’s first year with the Pelicans but second in the Rangers system. He served as a roving Outfield Instructor in 2013, when he worked with all of the outfielders in the system. As a player, the former outfielder spent 11 seasons in the Astros organization, rising as high as Triple-A Tuscon. He played his entire career in the Astros organization except for stints in 1989 and 1994 in the Mexican League. As a player, he made all-star teams for the South Atlantic League (1985), Mexican League (1989), and Texas League (1991).

Although the wins and losses, especially the big wins like the South Atlantic League championship in 2012, matter to Mikulik, he is focused on helping the players get better first and foremost. As of this past offseason, Mikulik had managed 73 players who have played in the big leagues.

“When I began managing, I was trying to win games. After three or four years, I realized that I am not out there to win games. I still want us to win every game, every time we go out there, and win as many as possible, but the first priority is to help develop these players to get them to Arlington to help the Rangers. And when they make it, and many of these guys are not that far away, that is the most rewarding thing of all of this.”

Four of the five Pelicans managers in team history have over 1,000 wins but only Mikulik has earned the 1000th win in the Pelicans Blue and Gold. Brian Snitker, Randy Ingle, and Rocket Wheeler also have over 1,000 wins (Jason Wood is the only without 1,000). Wheeler was 29 wins shy of the mark after his final season in Myrtle Beach and both Snitker and Ingle were well short of the mark when they finished their time with the Pelicans.

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