Oct. 27, 2009
TUCSON, Ariz. – Former Arizona baseball player Brad J. Mills has been named manager of the Houston Astros, according to the Associated Press.
Mills starred at Arizona from 1978-79 along with Terry Francona, the current manager of the Boston Red Sox. Recently, the 52-year-old Mills has been Francona's bench coach in Boston for the past six seasons.
The Lemoncove, Calif., native becomes a MLB manager for the first time, though he's managed a total of 11 seasons in the minors, with affiliates for the Chicago Cubs (1987-92), Colorado Rockies (1993-96) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2002).
At Arizona, Mills earned the team’s “Most Inspirational Player Award” in 1979 following a season in which he finished with a .361 average and led the team in triples (7) and walks (56). He was named to the All-Conference southern division team and a third team All-American as a designated hitter. That same year, Francona was the team’s “Most Valuable Player” and named to the All-Conference southern division team in the Pac-10.
Prior to his senior season in 1979, Mills, a third baseman, underwent a shoulder operation on his throwing arm and could only be used as a designated hitter in the first half of the season. The Wildcats were struggling to get out of the conference cellar with a 4-7 mark, when Mills returned to play third base in the every day lineup. With Mills back on the field, the Wildcats won 13 of their final 19 league games and took two out of three from the northern division champs to finish second in the Pac-10 behind UCLA.
As a junior in 1978, Mills was named a second team All-American after hitting .435 and reaching base at a .549 clip, figures that rank fourth respectively on the UA single-season all-time charts in each category.
Mills finished his Arizona career with a .394 batting average, which still stands as the No. 4 mark in program history for players with at least 200 career at-bats. His .515 career on-base percentage is third-best in school history.
Mills was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 1979 MLB Draft. A 17th-round pick, he reached the major leagues for the first time on June 8, 1980 and went on to hit .256 with a homer and 12 RBI in 106 games for the Expos from 1980-83.