Privateers letterman from 1976-77 has interim tag removed from title after guiding the club to a 59-65 mark in 2016
NEW ORLEANS – Just over five months after being named interim manager of the Atlanta Braves, former University of New Orleans catcher Brian Snitker had the interim label removed from his title as the organization named him it’s manager for the 2017 campaign on Monday.
Taking over a squad that opened the 2016 season 9-28, Snitker assumed managerial duties on May 17 and helped lead the Braves to a 59-65 mark the rest of the way. Atlanta finished the year on a roll with wins in 20 of its last 30 games. Snitker is the second former Privateer to become a Major League manager as Mike Quade managed the Chicago Cubs from 2010-11.
“This is a good day for the Atlanta Braves,” Braves general manager John Coppolella told MLB.com. “He earned this opportunity. There was nothing he did that told us he was not the right guy for the job. He changed the clubhouse culture and created a positive vibe throughout our organization. There were multiple players who came to me this year and said, ‘[Snitker] is the best manager I’ve ever had.’”
A native of Decatur, Illinois and a letterman on the Lakefront from 1976-77, Snitker is no stranger to MLB or the Braves as he served as the team’s bullpen coach in 1985 and again from 1988-90, and as the third base coach from 2006-13. He began his professional managing career with the Anderson Braves of the South Atlantic League in 1982. He also managed Braves’ minor league affiliates Durham from 1983-84 and 1987, Sumter in 1986, Danville in 1996, Macon from 1997-98, Myrtle Beach from 1999-2001, Greenville from 2002-06 and Gwinnett from 2014 until his most recent call to “The Show.”
At the Minor League level, Snitker posted a combined record of 1,302-1,309 with seven winning campaigns, including a career-best 88-52 mark in 2000 with the Myrtle Beach where the Advanced-A squad posted the best record in the Carolina League and won the postseason league title. His Myrtle Beach team also won the Carolina League in 1999 with a 79-60 record, and Snitker was named the league’s Manager of the Year both seasons.
A 1973 graduate of Macon High, where he was a member of the school’s 1971 state championship team, Snitker played two seasons at Lincoln Junior College in Illinois and was named second-team all-state after hitting .320 and helping lead the Lynx to a 20-18 overall record as a sophomore in 1975. That summer, he played in the Central Illinois Collegiate League and hit .323 before seeing his first season at UNO cut short because of a thumb injury. Despite playing in just five games, Snitker was selected in the 25th round of the 1976 Major League Draft by the Chicago Cubs.
He returned for his senior campaign with the Privateers and went on to hit .268 with a .406 slugging percentage courtesy of six doubles, one triple and three home runs while driving in 21 runs, scoring 10 times, posting six stolen bases and drawing 25 walks. In his lone full season on the diamond, Snitker helped UNO post a 35-9 overall record and advance to the 1977 South Central Regional in Arlington, Texas – the first postseason bid by the Privateers as a Division I program.
In two seasons at UNO, Snitker was part of a squad that posted a combined 61-13-1 record while hitting .261 (35-for-134) to go with 19 extra-base hits, 22 RBI and 12 runs scored. Following his senior season, he signed a free agent contract with the Braves and played from 1977-80 in the organization – advancing as far as Triple-A Richmond in 1978. For his career, he hit .254 with a .390 slugging percentage on the strength of 31 doubles, three triples and 23 home runs while posting 112 RBI, 10 stolen bases and 96 runs scored in 236 career games.