COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - The Columbia Blowfish have hired a former major leaguer as the team's new head coach as the Blowfish get ready for what will likely be its last season at Capital City Stadium.
The team introduced Jonathan Johnson as the new head coach of the defending Coastal Plain League champions on Wednesday. Johnson was a first-draft pick out of Florida State in 1995. He pitched six major league seasons for the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres and Houston Astros.
Johnson replaces Brian Buscher as the team's coach. Buscher, a former Gamecock, is now a member of the University of South Carolina staff.
However, Johnson is keeping a Gamecock feel on the Blowfish, bringing in former South Carolina standout Parker Bangs as an assistant coach. Bangs was a member of USC's 2010 national championship team. He was later drafted by the Kansas City Royals.
"Jonathan is a man of integrity who will be a great mentor to all our players," said Blowfish president Bill Shanahan. "Having Parker as our assistant coach provides us an NCAA College World Series champion who will, no doubt, offer great guidance and experiences for this year's team."
Johnson, whose wife is from the Midlands, has had a home in the Columbia area for years, and coached Dutch Fork High School for three seasons.
"It's a very exciting opportunity for me to be part of the Blowfish. Columbia's a tremendous baseball town," said Johnson. "What the University of South Carolina has done through their baseball program the past couple of years has put South Carolina and the city of Columbia on the map. It's always been a baseball town, but, it's been a hidden treasure."
The baseball future of Columbia has been in question for more than a year, though, after city council brokered a land deal with a developer for the area on which Capital City Stadium sits. The Columbia Blowfish are guaranteed the 2013 season at the old ballpark, but, are very likely on their own after that.
Team officials have been working to try to secure a new home for the Blowfish in order to keep summertime baseball in a region that has enjoyed minor league, and now collegiate wooden bat league play for generations.
Blowfish president Bill Shanahan says he is "zeroed in" on Lexington County as a potential new home for the team. Sources tell WACH Fox News that Lexington County council could take a key vote in the next 45 days that would clear the way for a new stadium in the county.