Former McClancy Star Lands 1st Managerial Gig in Minors

Anthony Iapoce, a sports star at St. Joseph’s parish in Astoria (inset) and Msgr. McClancy H.S., is now the manager of the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. (Photos: Jim Mancari and Anthony Iapoce)
Anthony Iapoce, a sports star at St. Joseph’s parish in Astoria (inset) and Msgr. McClancy H.S., is now the manager of the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. (Photos: Jim Mancari and Anthony Iapoce)

There’s something so funny about the sport of baseball.

Take Anthony Iapoce for example. The former sports star at St. Joseph’s Parish, Astoria, and Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, spent last season as the senior hitting coordinator for the Boston Red Sox organization and happened to make a stop in Toledo, Ohio — the home of the Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

As he walked around the stadium and the town, he thought to himself that it would be great to work in a place like this. Sure enough, less than a year later, Iapoce is the new manager of the Toledo Mud Hens.

Following an extensive career in baseball, this will be Iapoce’s first official managerial job. He’s been primarily a hitting coach and instructor over the past two decades, so now he’s excited about the opportunity to take on more of a field general role.

“I’ve always enjoyed the whole game and how to help players win games,” said Iapoce, who is currently down in Lakeland, Fla., for Tigers spring training. “When they get called up to the big leagues, it’s about winning. I’ve always preached how to win and how to help them get there.”

Iapoce’s athletic career began in the schoolyard of St. Joseph’s, where he starred on Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) baseball and basketball teams that won numerous diocesan championships. From there, he was the center fielder on McClancy’s baseball team and point guard for the basketball team. He won four city championships in high school across both sports, setting a McClancy record.

Iapoce won five different MVP awards, All-City honors in both sports as a senior, and McClancy’s senior student-athlete award. As a 23-year-old, he was a member of McClancy’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1996. He went on to play nine professional seasons in the minor leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers and Florida (now Miami) Marlins, sporting a .273 batting average in 845 games.

When his playing career ended in 2005, Iapoce spent four seasons as a minor league hitting coach for the Marlins. During that time, he aspired to manage, yet other opportunities presented themselves.

He was then the roving minor league hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays before being hired as the special assistant to the general manager and minor-league hitting coordinator for the Chicago Cubs. Iapoce then spent three years as the Major League hitting coach for the Texas Rangers, followed by three years in the same role for the Cubs before his season with the Red Sox.

The position with the Mud Hens came about when Iapoce received a call from Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, who used to manage the Houston Astros during Iapoce’s days with the division rival Rangers. Iapoce has been part of several historic organizations, so the Tigers seemed to be a great fit. In spring training, he’s enjoyed getting out of the batting cage to help the players work on all aspects of their game, including defense, pitching, and baserunning.

“It’s constant learning about what the organization values,” he said. “Being in this role, I’ll learn more about how the organization values pitching and what we value on defense. The Triple-A level is a great level because guys are so close. I hope to help these players get to the Detroit Tigers to help them win a World Series.”

It’s a balance as a Triple-A manager to focus more on developing players rather than accumulating victories. Iapoce understands the success of a minor league manager is more so in how his players are prepared to succeed at the next level.

“You teach players how to win so that when they get called up, they’re able to help the team win,” he said. “Whether we win a ton of games or not a lot of games in Toledo, it’s secondary to winning at the Major League level. If we’re fortunate enough to win some games in the process, that’s great, but for me the goal is to help the players get to the point where they can help the Major League club win games.”

Iapoce has never forgotten his roots as he’s advanced through professional baseball. He said his youth coaches — Artie Cox at St. Joe’s and Bob Lowenberg and Ed McGlone at McClancy — were inspirational in his career as a player while teaching him the importance of accountability. In his first role as a manager, he expects to incorporate the lessons he learned from his past into his style.

With the support of his family — wife Suzanne and three children: Lily, 10; Abby, 7; and Anthony, 6 — Iapoce is eager for this next challenge in his baseball career. He’s the prime example that CYO and CHSAA student-athletes can achieve their dreams if they stay dedicated to their passion.

Contact Jim Mancari via email at