Chris Widger

From BR Bullpen


Christopher Jon Widger

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Catcher Chris Widger was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the third round of the 1992 amateur draft. As a junior in college, he led the Colonial Athletic Association with 18 homers, hit .343, slugged .721 and hit 20 doubles. He made the CAA All-Conference team at catcher. Assigned to the Bellingham Mariners, he hit .259/~.346/.404 and led Northwest League backstops with a .987 fielding percentage.

In 1993, he was with the Riverside Pilots and posted a .264/~.301/.428 line. Moving steadily up the chain, Widger batted .260/.334/.438 for the Jacksonville Suns with 16 homers, making the Southern League All-Star team. Rated the #6 prospect in Seattle's system entering the year (according to Baseball America), Widger hit .276/~.311/.506 for the 1995 Tacoma Rainiers and made his big league debut. He spent most of the 1996 season in Tacoma as well, batting .304/~.354/.483 and again had a cup of coffee with Seattle.

With Jason Varitek a hotter prospect in the M's system, Chris was traded to the Montreal Expos after the 1996 season as part of a deal for Jeff Fassero. He saw more playing time with the Expos and soon was a regular behind the plate. He had his finest season in 1999, hitting .264 with 14 homers, an 89 OPS+ and 56 RBI. During the 2000 season, he was traded back to the Mariners, with whom he saw little playing time. After the season, Widger had shoulder surgery, and he did not return to the majors in 2001. He went on to spend time with the New York Yankees in 2002 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003 but played sparingly with both clubs. He hit .244/.300/.456 for the 2002 Columbus Clippers and .239/.304/.423 with the 2003 Memphis Redbirds.

In 2004, Widger played for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League and hit .267 with 16 home runs, making the league's All-Star team. This earned him an invitation to spring training with the Chicago White Sox in 2005. He made the big league club, and although his playing time was limited behind A.J. Pierzynski, he still managed to have his best major league season in five years. He also made his first World Series appearance, going 0 for 1 with an RBI and 2 walks in Game 3 of the Fall Classic. However, he hit just .184 in 2006 and was designated for assignment by the Sox in July. The next month, Widger was signed by the Baltimore Orioles after they traded catcher Javy Lopez to the Boston Red Sox.

Widger was an assistant coach at Pennsville Memorial High School in 2013 and pitching coach for the Camden Riversharks in 2013-2014. In 2015, he took over as manager of the Riversharks in what turned out to be their final season. Widger returned to organized baseball as bench coach of the Wilmington Blue Rocks from 2016-2018. Widger managed the Burlington Royals in 2019. He was scheduled to be manager for Wimington in 2020 before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

In 2021 Widger guided the Quad Cities River Bandits to a league-best 77-41 record that included finishing the season with wins or splits in all but one of the 20 six-game series the River Bandits played. His work did not go unnoticed as he was named the High-A Central Manager of the Year and Baseball America's national Minor League Manager of the Year. He is scheduled to manage the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in 2022.

Widger's uncle, Mike Widger, played in the Canadian Football League for nearly a decade.

Notable Achievement[edit]

Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
2015 Camden Riversharks Atlantic League 56-83 7th (t) Independent Leagues
2019 Burlington Royals Appalachian League 39-29 2nd Kansas City Royals Lost League Finals
2020 Wilmington Blue Rocks Carolina League Season cancelled
2021 Quad Cities River Bandits High-A Central 77-41 1st Kansas City Royals League Champs
2022 Northwest Arkansas Naturals Texas League Kansas City Royals

Further Reading[edit]

  • Thomas Ayers: "Widger Helps Expos Win Wild One; May 16, 1996: Montreal Expos 14, San Francisco Giants 13 At Olympic Stadium", in Norm King, ed.: Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2016, pp. 119-121. ISBN 978-1-943816-15-6
  • Bill Mitchell: "Chris Widger Named 2021 Minor League Baseball Manager Of The Year", Baseball America, November 30, 2021. [1]

Related Sites[edit]