Charlie Montoyo said his phone, email and Facebook page were blowing up Tuesday morning after the news broke that the winningest manager in Durham Bulls history would be inducted into the International League Hall of Fame this year.
“I saw a 919 (area code) call and thought I’d better answer that one now,” he said from his home near St. Petersburg, Fla., laughing. “It’s been a busy morning, and I feel very appreciative. So many guys have texted me, so it’s been a morning of me calling back people who left me messages. I’m making sure I reply to everybody.”
If Montoyo has to call back all of his friends in baseball, he’s got his work cut out for him. A popular leader during his eight years at the helm of the Bulls, he rattled off a list of people he had already heard from, including Bulls general manager Mike Birling and current Bulls manager Jared Sandberg.
Montoyo said he found out late last week that he had been voted into the IL Hall of Fame.
“I’m excited and honored,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling. There’s a huge place in my heart to be honored in Durham.”
“There is no one more deserving of this honor than Charlie Montoyo,” Birling said. “Charlie’s impact in Durham will be long-lasting, not just because of what he did on the field but also because of how beloved he was by everyone he came in contact with. The entire Bulls organization is thrilled for Charlie.”
2 Governors’ Cup championships
6 Governors’ Cup Finals
1 Triple-A championship
Montoyo, now the third base coach of the Bulls’ parent Tampa Bay Rays, and former IL player and coach Hensley Meulens, now the hitting coach of the San Francisco Giants, constitute the IL Hall of Fame class of 2016, which was determined by vote of Hall of Fame members, longtime executives, broadcasters and members of the media.
Montoyo becomes the third former Durham Bull to be enshrined. Pitcher Dave Eiland and manager Bill Evers were inducted in 2012.
Montoyo will receive the “The Curtain Call” statue from the Bulls in a ceremony this season at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The date has yet to be determined.
Montoyo, 50, had a 10-year playing career in the minor leagues as a second baseman in the Milwaukee Brewers, Montreal Expos and Philadelphia Phillies organizations before being tapped by the then-expansion Rays to manage Pulaski in the rookie Appalachian League in 1997. He spent 10 years climbing the ranks of the Rays’ minor league outposts before taking over the Class AAA Bulls in 2007.
In his eight years in the Bull City, the native of Puerto Rico guided the team to a franchise-record 633-515 record, including seven South Division titles, a league-record six Governors’ Cup finals appearances, two Governors’ Cup championships in 2009 and 2013, and the Triple-A championship in 2009.