Even though Jamie Turner didn’t join the I-75 League as a manager until the third month of our sixth season, those who were there on that Sunday night in March of 1980 know that Jamie played a key role in a successful launch of the league.
Jamie, then working as a sportswriter at a newspaper in Natchez, Miss., and vacationing in Tampa, was persuaded by Dave Renbarger to help out during the league’s inaugural draft. Jamie served as draft moderator, manning the phone connection between the Tampa Times newsroom, where five managers had gathered, and Ken Kuzdak’s kitchen, where four Northerners had assembled.
One of the league’s most treasured artifacts, the inaugural draft list, was penned that night by Jamie.
It was more than five years later before Jamie joined the managerial ranks, stepping in three months into the 1985 season when Buddy Taylor couldn’t cut it (see May 1985 newsletter announcement). He proceeded to take a 29-31 team to the playoffs, tieing for fourth (82-78) and beating the vaunted Washington Senators in a one-game playoff (see Nov-Dec. 1985 newsletter), knocking off the first-place Ansbach Angels in four games (first-round playoff series were best-of-five then), before falling to the Michigan Drifters in a six-game World Series.
Twenty-five seasons later, Jamie has announced he is bowing out of the league, leaving behind a trail of accomplishments and contributions that will mark a lasting legacy.
In his first 15 seasons as manager of the Tropical Heat (1985-99), Jamie made 14 playoff appearances, and only once in that stretch did he fail to win 80 games (1992). His Heat club captured regular-season titles in 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993 and 1998.
Since expanding to two six-team divisions in 2003, Tropical has notched division titles in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2010. Tropical finished second in 2007, and in two of the years it missed out on the playoffs (2008 and 2009) the club still posted 80 or more wins.