Coaching Staff

George Tsamis - Manager

George-Tsamis.jpg​​​Over the last five season’s George Tsamis is the winningest manager in the American Association.  He capped off his 21st season, 17 with the St. Paul Saints, winning his fourth championship and ending a 15-year personal and organizational drought.  His teams have advanced to the postseason in 10 of the 17 seasons he has managed the Saints.  His 2019 sweep of the Sioux City Explorers goes along with 2004, when the Saints rallied past Schaumburg to win a thrilling five-game title series. He also managed the New Jersey Jackals to back-to-back Northern League championships in 2001-02.

The hard-driving ex-big leaguer enters the 2020 season – his 18th as manager of the Saints and 22nd overall – looking to become just the second team in American Association to win back-to-back titles.  During his time with the Saints he has accumulated and impressive 924-734 regular season record. He became the all-time winningest manager in Saints history with an 8-3 victory over the Explorers on July 27, 2007 at Midway Stadium. The victory marked the 265th in his Saints tenure, surpassing Marty Scott's 264 wins from 1995-2000.  Tsamis earned win number 500 in his illustrious Saints career against that same Explorers club on July 21 in a 7-6 victory at Sioux City.  He joined the exclusive 1,000 win club, a fraternity that includes only five other Independent League Managers, with a 6-5, come from behind victory over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at CHS Field on June 12, 2018.

He is also in charge of player personnel, the same dual role he had in New Jersey, where he won a pair of Northern League Championships.

His formula for success is simple: "I want them to show up on time and play hard," said Tsamis. "We'll have fun. For a guy to be successful, you have to have fun playing."

There has been more fun than not in Tsamis' years on the bench as evidence by his career regular season won-loss mark of 1,107-904.

Success and Tsamis were linked from an early age. In 1979, the then 12-year-old left-hander played for the Campbell, CA team that reached the Little League World Series Championship, a 2-1 extra inning loss to the team from Taiwan. He was the winning pitcher the day before when Campbell won the semifinals to claim the U.S. Championship.

The next year his family moved to Clearwater, FL where baseball continued for Tsamis and his brothers – Bill and Nick – at Countryside High School. After a standout prep career, Tsamis received a scholarship to attend Stetson University in DeLand, FL. He helped the Hatters win consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference championships and set the single-season school mark with 130 strikeouts in 1989. He was named the conference's Player of the Year, a rarity for a pitcher.

After 31 years, Tsamis still stands fourth on the school's all-time single season strikeout list (130) and ranks tied for 14th in conference history, just ahead of ex-Saint Mike Mimbs (who recorded 126 for Mercer in 1990). His college career complete games mark of 25 is tied for tops in conference history while his 391.1 innings pitched is second.  He is tied for fifth in wins (31) and strikeouts (350) and tied for seventh in games started (55). He is also among the leaders in many Stetson career categories including first in school history in complete games (25), second in strikeouts (350), third in victories with 31 and innings pitched (391.1) and tied for third in games started with 55. His 19 strikeouts (as a freshman!) against Bethune-Cookman on April 1, 1986 is still a school record.

Tsamis was drafted in the 33rd round by the Toronto Blue Jays after his junior season at Stetson, but elected to stay for his senior year. He went 11-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 1989 and the Minnesota Twins were impressed enough to draft him in the 15th round. He spent the next two years playing for the Visalia Oaks, the Twins' Single-A club, before reaching the Triple-A level in 1991 with the Portland Beavers. After posting a 23-12 record over two seasons there, in 1993, Minnesota promoted Tsamis and he made his Major League debut April 26. Used as a reliever, Tsamis earned a win and a pair of saves with the Twins that season.

Following his nine-year professional playing career, where he registered a 57-31 Minor League record, Tsamis became the pitching coach of the Waterbury (Conn.) Spirit in the renamed Northeast League and was promoted to the managerial role in 1999.

He spent two years there before moving to New Jersey in 2001 where he went 107-72 in the regular season and defeated Winnipeg in the league championship series both years.

Managerial Record

Year Team League W L % Finish
1999 Waterbury NORE 36 50 .419 4th, South Division
2000 Waterbury NORE 40 46 .465 Lost to Elmira, 1st round
2001 New Jersey NORE 45 45 .500 Won NL Championship
2002 New Jersey NORE 62 27 .697 Won NL Championship
2003 St. Paul NOR 52 38 .578 Lost to Winnipeg, 1st round
2004 St. Paul NOR 61 34 .642 Won NL Championship
2005 St. Paul NOR 55 40 .579 Lost to Gary SouthShore, 1st round
2006 St. Paul AMER 54 42 .563 Lost to Fort Worth AA Finals
2007 St. Paul AMER 57 39 .594 Lost to Fort Worth AA Finals
2008 St. Paul AMER 42 54 .438 5th, North Division
2009 St. Paul AMER 49 47 .510 T2nd, North Division
2010 St. Paul AMER 45 51 .469 5th, North Division
2011 St. Paul AMER 56 44 .560 Lost to Grand Prairie, AA Finals
2012 St. Paul AMER 52 48 .520 3rd, North Division
2013 St. Paul AMER 47 53 .470 3rd, North Division
2014 St. Paul AMER 48 52 .480 2nd, North Division
2015 St. Paul AMER 74 26 .740 Lost to Sioux City, Division Series
2016 St. Paul AMER 61 39 .610 Lost to Winnipeg, Division Series
2017 St. Paul AMER 48 52 .480 3rd, North Division
2018 St. Paul AMER 59 41 .590 Lost to Kansas City, AA Championship Series
2019 St. Paul AMER 64 36 .640 Won AA Champiionship
Totals (21 seasons)     1,107 904 .551 13 playoff appearances, 5 championships

Ole Sheldon - Hitting Coach

Ole-Sheldon.jpg

After an illustrious career with the St. Paul Saints as a player, Ole Sheldon returned to the team in 2014 as a first-time hitting coach.  The team finished with its highest batting average since 2007 as well as the most hits in franchise history.  In 2015 they obliterated several franchise records including runs scored, hits and home runs, and for just the fourth time in franchise history, hit at least .290.  Since moving into CHS Field the offense has set eight different organizational records over the last five seasons, including setting the franchise record for hits in 2018, with 1,012, the second time in four years they collected more than 1,000 hits.

Sheldon finished his last season, his fifth, with the Saints in 2013 and hit .299 with seven homers and 21 RBI in 51 games.  In 184 at bats he scored 27 runs, had nine doubles, a .370 on base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage.

Sheldon finished his Saints career as the all-time home run leader, 13 more than anyone else, with 67, RBI (271), extra base hits (154), at bats (1367), games (355) and sacrifice flies (15).  Along with the career bests, Sheldon also has the second (22) and fourth (20) most home runs in a single-season in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

In 2012 Sheldon hit .279 with 20 homers and 69 RBI in 97 games.  In 383 at bats he scored 55 runs, slugged 22 doubles, a .339 on base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage.  His record setting season began on July 15 when he collected four RBI at Winnipeg and surpassed Brent Krause’s (2007-11) franchise record of 212.  The home run record fell on July 21 at Sioux City when he clubbed his 55th in franchise history surpassing David Kennedy’s (1994, 97-99) record of 54.  The home run was also the 100th of Sheldon’s career.  He finished tied for first in the American Association in home runs.

Despite battling injuries during most of the 2011 season, Sheldon put up another remarkable campaign hitting .304 with 12 homers and 76 RBI in 81 games.  In 326 at bats he scored 51 runs, had 22 doubles, two triples, an on base percentage of .373 and a slugging percentage of .494.  He stepped up when it counted hitting .353 with runners on base, .405 with runners in scoring position and .511 with runners in scoring position and two outs.  He also hit .467 with the bases loaded including a grand slam on May 14 vs. Sioux Falls Pheasants.  During the Saints run to the American Association Championship Series, Sheldon hit .300 with a homer and five RBI in 10 games.

Sheldon’s 2010 season with the Saints was just as solid, slugging the second most homers in a single season with 22.  He barely missed out on, at the time, the franchises single-season RBI mark knocking in 79 and finishing tied for second with Marcel Longmire (2007) in that category and just behind David Kennedy’s 1997 mark of 80 (since surpassed by Vinny DiFazio and Angelo Songco in 2015 with 82).  His 47 extra base hits were tied for the third best single-season mark in the franchise’s history, five shy of Jason Cooper’s record, which he set that season. 

In 2009 Sheldon played in just 30 games for the Saints before the Cleveland Indians purchased his contract.  With the Saints he hit .340 with six homers and 19 RBI and was among the league leaders in nearly every major category prior to him leaving.  In 106 at bats he scored 22 runs, had seven doubles, slugged .575 and had a .444 on base percentage.  On June 16 the Indians purchased his contract and he was assigned to Single-A Kinston.

While with Kinston he hit .267 with 13 homers and 54 RBI in 72 games.  In 258 at bats he scored 39 runs, walloped 14 doubles, slugged .473 and had a .360 on base percentage.

Sheldon was a 14th round pick of the Houston Astros in the 2004 June Amateur Draft.  He reached Double-A Corpus Christi in 2008 and had, at that time, a career high 13 home runs.  

Team Offensive Stats As Hitting Coach (Franchise Records in Bold)

Year AVG. GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO HBP DP SH SF SB CS OBP SLG
2014 .285 100 3454 492 986 185 9 73 455 327 630 61 102 52 30 39 13 .355 .408
2015 .290 100 3479 612 1008 187 21 104 563 366 707 52 66 56 34 82 29 .363 .455
2016 .275 100 3367 571 925 166 26 106 521 403 687 64 59 39 43 119 31 .359 .343
2017 .268 100 3488 518 934 184 19 112 473 357 833 48 52 52 32 80 13 .341 .428
2018 .289 100 3500 552 1012 194 12 96 511 352 684 62 91 33 26 65 22 .362 .434
2019 .272 100 3433 550 933 171 19 108 518 428 746 80 101 39 37 72 25 .362 .427

 

Kerry Ligtenberg - Pitching Coach

Kerry-Ligtenberg.jpgThe former Big Leaguer begins his ninth season as the pitching coach for the St. Paul Saints.  Kerry Ligtenberg brings knowledge and experience to the helm of his pitching staff.  A man that pitched on the same team as Hall of Famer’s Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine has helped pitchers like Robert Coe, Mark Hamburger, Chris Nunn, Zack Jones, Nick Belzer, and even knuckle-baller Dan Johnson, get their contracts purchased.                     

Ligtenberg helped guide the 2015 Saints pitching staff to one of the more remarkable seasons in the franchise’s history.  Four starters recorded at least 10 wins, (Kramer Sneed – 15, Dustin Crenshaw – 14, Jeff Shields – 13 and Robert Coe – 12) becoming just the second foursome to accomplish the feat in American Association history.  The 3.24 team ERA was the best in franchise history and nearly a half a run better than their next best season.  He also helped Coe become the winningest pitcher in Saints history as well as setting the franchise strikeout mark.  In 2018, Ligtenberg’s pitchers set a franchise record with 791 strikeouts, more than 100 better than their next best season.  Reliever Beck Wheeler also set the American Association record for most strikeouts by a reliever, with 94, in just 61.0 innings pitched.  Of course, during the championship run in 2019 the team finished with the third best ERA in the league, Eddie Medina tossed the Saints second ever no-hitter, and in the playoffs they pitched to a remarkable 2.83 ERA.

 

The 47-year-old Ligtenberg last pitched professionally for the Saints in 2009 when he went 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 15 saves in 30 games before retiring on August 5. In 36.0 innings pitched he walked just six and struck out 29.

 

Ligtenberg attended the University of Minnesota and began his professional career with the Minneapolis Loons of the independent North Central League in 1994 and 1995. After two impressive seasons as a starter his manager, and former Atlanta Braves catcher Greg Olson, recommended the Braves purchase his contract. He began his tenure with the Braves organization in 1996 and it took him just one season to reach the Major Leagues. Ligtenberg capitalized on a huge opportunity in 1998 when he took over the closing duties from Mark Wohlers. Ligtenberg converted 30 of 34 save opportunities and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting as he helped the Braves to the best record in the National League at 105-56.

 

After missing the entire 1999 season with a torn ligament in his elbow, Ligtenberg was tremendous for the Braves from 2000-2002. He went 8-10 with a 3.17 ERA and 13 saves during that span. After six seasons with the Braves, Ligtenberg signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles in 2003 and went 4-2 with a 3.34 ERA. He spent the last two seasons in the Major Leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays (2004) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2005). After spending the entire 2006 season in Triple-A Iowa with the Chicago Cubs organization, he was invited to spring training with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007, but was released after just 5.1 innings pitched. He retired until making one last comeback with the Saints in 2009.

 

The former Park High School graduate stayed busy after that as he took over as head coach of his former high school in 2011 & 2012.

 

Team Pitching Stats As Hitting Coach (Franchise Records in Bold)

Year GP CG SHO SV IP H R ER BB SO HBP WP BK HR OBA ERA
2012 100 3 5 20 886.1 934 485 419 374 551 44 55 2 74 .274 4.28
2013 100 9 7 18 864.2 938 509 462 378 582 55 65 2 76 .277 4.81
2014 100 6 7 22 871.0 943 532 458 408 627 51 67 10 66 .276 4.73
2015 100 8 7 28 889.0 826 358 320 248 560 29 48 0 54 .248 3.24
2016 100 8 9 27 868.2 868 471 409 358 639 44 48 1 86 .260 4.24
2017 100 10 3 16 884.1 947 524 467 351 685 53 68 2 88 .276 4.76
2018 100 1 7 29 888.2 884 472 391 315 791 48 76 1 61 .258 3.96
2019 100 2 7 31 902.2 884 452 406 402 732 59 56 2 88 .255 4.05

 

Jason Ellenbecker - Certified Athletic Trainer

Jason Ellenbecker.jpgJason graduated from the University of WI Stevens Point in 2004 with a bachelors degree in Athletic Training.  He worked for the MN Vikings for two complete seasons from 2004 through 2006. Followjng his time with the Vikings he went to Hamline University and took over as the Head Athletic Trainer in the fall of 2006 working with multiple sports including the 2011 Hamline Baseball team that won the MIAC conference tournament,

Ellenbecker earned a Master of Business Administration from Hamline in 2010. He is married to wife Jill and they have two children, Isaac and Lilia and currently live in Hudson, WI.