After 10 seasons and more than 500 home games that accounted for just a fraction of the days and nights he spent at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, Wingnuts president and general manager Josh Robertson announced his resignation Friday afternoon.
The 42-year-old Robertson, who will remain with the team in an advisory role under new general manager Brian Turner, has worked in professional baseball in Wichita for 19 years, the first eight with the Wichita Wranglers.
After the Wranglers left for Arkansas following the 2007 season, the independent Wingnuts began play the following season.
Robertson, who has two daughters with his wife Monica, cited family reasons for his resignation. A recent viewing of a Kevin Costner movie got him thinking about life after baseball.
“I was literally sitting in my basement watching ‘For Love of the Game,’ and I didn’t even consult with my wife, I didn’t consult the owners,” Robertson said. “I decided this is what I was going to. Then I told my wife and she was shocked, because she would have expected me to be at the stadium for another 20 years.
“… Family is the main thing for me. This is based solely off family and spending more time with them and being on a more normal schedule.”
The Wingnuts were always a family endeavor for Robertson, a Wichita native. He is the oldest among four brothers – Luke, Nate and Matt – who all played significant roles within the franchise.
Luke was the pitching coach for the first nine years and Nate, a former major-leaguer, has served as part owner since the team’s inception. All three brothers have pitched for the team briefly.
Robertson built teams that reached the American Association playoffs nine times, including a current streak of seven straight division titles. Under seven-year manager Kevin Hooper, the Wingnuts won their only championship in 2014.
The Wingnuts have sent four players to the major leagues. Pitcher Junior Guerra hadn’t pitched above Class-A when he came to Wichita and 2011, and outfielder David Peralta, had only elevated to rookie ball – as a pitcher – when he joined the Wingnuts in 2012.
Robertson will help build the 2018 roster with Turner and new manager Brent Clevlen, who replaced Pete Rose Jr. after Rose’s two seasons. The future of the Wingnuts beyond this year is in doubt with Mayor Jeff Longwell promising a new downtown stadium and an affiliated team.
“All of our staff members, if an affiliated team does come – we don’t know what’s going to happen – we’re certain that a lot of our staff members are going to have the opportunity to work for them,” Robertson said.