Eric Champion has been named the new manager of the Grand Prairie AirHogs, effective immediately, July 8, 2014. He replaces Ricky VanAsselberg, who managed the AirHogs for three full seasons and the first 49 games of 2014.
Champion served as the AirHogs’ bench coach for VanAsselberg’s entire tenure in Grand Prairie. Grand Prairie is Champion’s first professional coaching stop. He played college baseball at Baptist Christian (La.) College, and was named a two time small-college All-American. Champion led Baptist Christian to back-to-back small-college national championships.
Following college, he worked as a pitching instructor in East Windsor, New Jersey.
VanAsselberg led Grand Prairie to the American Association championship in 2011, when the AirHogs finished 64-36. After missing the playoffs in 2012 but recording a winning season (53-47), the AirHogs returned to the postseason in 2013. Grand Prairie lost the semifinal series to the Wichita Wingnuts on the heels of a 54-46 regular season.
In all, VanAsselberg managed for eight full seasons at the independent level and never posted a losing season. He led the United League’s Alexandria Aces to a league championship in 2006 and 2007, his first two years with the team.
The AirHogs will play the Kansas City T-Bones on the road this evening at 7:05 p.m. Central time at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kansas.