Portager swims with the Fish
Andrew Collier, centre, is soaked with alcohol by his players in traditional baseball-celebratory fashion following the team`s championship victory. (Supplied)
A well-earned induction.
Winnipeg Goldeyes general manager Andrew Collier may not live in Portage la Prairie anymore but still holds fond memories of playing minor hockey for the junior Terriers as he gets set to be inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.
“I just kind of fell into this,” laughs Collier. “I graduated from University of Manitoba in 1992 with a degree in commerce. My current job at the time was at IBM and my shift was 4-11 p.m. so I would golf every day. One time I was out golfing with Scott Taylor and he brought Goldeyes' owner Sam Katz out and because I wasn't thrilled with my job I asked (Katz) for a job.”
Collier continued to push Katz for a job and it finally paid off six games into their inaugural season. The team didn't really have a place for him at the start but he eventually wound up as box-office manager and ticket administrator. He slowly worked his way up to corporate sales, and eventually assistant GM to John Hindle. Then in December of 2001 Hindle retired and Katz named Collier the general manager.
Collier was born and raised in Portage la Prairie and if you asked him what he wanted to be growing up he probably wouldn't answer general manager of a professional baseball team. That's where he's been since 2002, though, leading the Winnipeg Goldeyes most recently to back-to-back championships in the American Independent Association (AIA).
“It's funny I actually only played baseball when I was really young and never really played past the age of 13 or 14,” says Collier. “I was a backup goalie to Faron Asham during minor hockey and we were goalie partners for a number of years. He's actually getting inducted as well which is amazing.”
His first two seasons as GM ended in heartbreak, finishing the season in first place and losing in the championship series. It took him until 2012 to win his first AIA title and most recently winning back to back through 2016 and 2017.
“Game four of this year's championship was the craziest game of ball I've ever seen,” says Collier. “Bottom of the ninth two out and I'm in the tunnel with the president of the league and the trophy in my hands. Next thing I know we're bringing in a starter who threw six scoreless innings after 10 p.m. to get us into a situation where we could force game 5. It was amazing.”
Courier adds it was all learned on the go at the beginning. At the beginning of his stint with the Fish, the Winnipeg Jets were still around, along with the Bombers, and he's amazed at how the team survived at Winnipeg Stadium shoehorned into the northwest corner.
He adds the moral of his story is always be prepared to do what it takes to get a job done and make sure you're doing what you love. The Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony in Morden on June 2, 2018.