With a quarter century of experience as a college baseball coach, Jack Dahm is the "baseball guy" that Clinton LumberKings general manager Ted Tornow had been looking for in recent weeks.
The former Creighton and Iowa head coach, who is beginning his seventh season leading the NAIA program at Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids, will work as the field manager for the LumberKings in 2021 as they transition from the Midwest League to the Prospect League.
One of 43 minor-league clubs across the country to lose major-league affiliation as part of Major League Baseball’s restructuring of the minor leagues, the Clinton franchise joined former Midwest League partner Burlington in the college wood-bat Prospect League.
"For the first time in the 22 years I’ve been in Clinton, there is not going to be a note sent from the major-league club saying this is who your manager is or this is your roster and here’s when you can pick the team up at the airport," Tornow said. "All of that is different now."
Tornow spent time at Prospect League meetings earlier this month asking peers in the LumberKings’ new 16-team league how they went about building a roster.
The Clinton club will now be responsible for everything from hiring a manager and coaching staff to securing college players who apply for opportunities to compete in the league through the league website.
What Tornow found out in talking with other league members was that there is no single answer. Some clubs have an individual in the front office who handles baseball operations, others leave personnel decisions up to the field manager and others have a hybrid model of sorts.
"Teams go about it different ways," Tornow said. "We’re learning every day about the nuances of the Prospect League and college wood-bat leagues in general and I suspect we still have quite a bit to learn."
Tornow said conversations left him with one clear understanding, that he needed someone to help with the on-field aspects of the organization.
"We needed a baseball guy, somebody who knew and understood college wood-bat leagues, how to build a team," Tornow said.
What began as a conversation with Dahm about the topic turned into a mutual interest, and while Dahm will continue to coach at Mount Mercy, NAIA rules also allow him to work in the summer as the manager of a team that will play a 60-game schedule from late May into mid August.
"The tradition of the LumberKings and the support of the community is what drew me to Clinton," Dahm said. "I am looking forward to helping in the transition from Minor League Baseball to the Prospect League."
Tornow said Dahm’s experience at the college level fit well with what the LumberKings organization needs.
"He has good connections with the college game and he has been sending his own players to college wood-bat leagues for years, from the Cape Cod League to Alaska to the Prospect League," Tornow said. "We feel like Jack will be a good fit to manage our club in our first season in the Prospect League and help us establish our foundation for the future."
An infielder at Creighton from 1986-89, Dahm joined the Bluejays’ staff as an assistant coach after completing his collegiate career.
Dahm became the head coach at his alma mater in 1993 and earned Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year honors twice and led two teams in the NCAA tourney before becoming the coach at Iowa in 2003. He led the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten tourney berths including a runner-up effort in 2010.
He coached the Iowa program until 2013 and in June 2014, became the head coach at Mount Mercy.