The Southern Illinois Miners announce that three-time Frontier League All-Star utility player Craig Massey has once again returned to the club as a player-coach for the 2021 season.
He was originally slated to come back to Southern Illinois in 2020, but when the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the Frontier League’s season, the veteran opted to play in the Battle of the Bourbon Trail league held in Florence and Lexington, Kentucky. Almost immediately, he began tearing up the circuit, batting an astounding .460 with 15 doubles, eight home runs, 35 RBIs, 45 runs scored, and 30 stolen bases in 35 attempts, all in only 35 games en route to being named the league’s most-valuable player.
Massey will be entering his third full season with Southern Illinois and his fourth overall after spending 2018 and 2019 with the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League. In 2019, the 31-year old batted .242 in 99 games with 18 doubles, three homers, 36 RBIs, 83 hits, and 28 stolen bases in 33 attempts. He was also named the second baseman on the league’s annual Red, White, and Blue All-Defensive Team, putting up a fielding percentage of .977 at the position.
In 2018, the Bells, Tennessee native won the Atlantic League batting title, hitting .338 in 87 games with 16 doubles, three homers, 40 RBIs, 111 hits, 56 runs scored, and 24 stolen bases in 32 attempts. He also paced the league with a .418 on-base percentage, the only qualified hitter with a mark of .400 or greater in that category.
Previously, Massey was a mid-season All-Star for three straight years with Southern Illinois (2016-17) and Schaumburg (2015) in the Frontier League, as well as the postseason all-star designated hitter in 2016 with the Miners. For his career with Southern Illinois after he was acquired in a trade from the Boomers in 2015, Massey has hit .290 in 197 games with 30 doubles, 12 triples, 10 home runs, 95 RBIs, 214 hits, 124 runs scored, and 38 stolen bases in 47 attempts. Ever patient at the plate, he has also drawn 105 walks against just 93 strikeouts for a .382 on-base percentage.
“I could not be more excited about coming back to the Miners,” Massey said. “Playing in Southern Illinois was like playing at home for me- I have so many great memories there, and I feel blessed to be able to make several more. All the signs were showing me that it was time to come back home.”
For his career, Massey has posted a .318 batting average and a .398 on-base percentage in 588 games, with 704 hits, 392 runs scored, 118 doubles, 21 triples, 36 home runs, 336 RBIs and 154 stolen bases in 190 attempts. Defensively, he has also played every single position on the diamond at some point in his professional career, which began in 2014 in the Pecos League when he won the batting title by hitting .465 in 60 games with the Santa Fe Fuego. He also played in two games that year with Trois-Rivières, which is now a member of the Frontier League.
“I am so happy to have Craig coming back to the Miners,” Miners manager Mike Pinto said. “He has had a few tremendous years since he was last with us, with an MVP award, batting championship, and the equivalent of a Gold Glove award. Craig’s defensive ability to handle so many positions makes him so valuable on a day-to-day basis when it comes to winning games. His experience as a Miner and as a successful player in multiple leagues will add a new dimension to the coaching staff as well.”
The Southern Illinois Miners are the Frontier League’s most-successful franchise since debuting in 2007, winning the 2012 Frontier League Championship as well as division titles in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They have been awarded the Frontier League Organization of the Year award three times since their inception, and also set a new Frontier League attendance record in their inaugural season. For ticket information, contact the box office at (618) 998-8499. For additional information, visit our website at www.southernillinoisminers.com