Minneapolis, MN – Just weeks after the Minneapolis Millers season had ended in three straight losses to their rival Vancouver Canadians, the local press was having a field day. After winning a league record 128 games, the team failed to win a championship despite making the playoffs for 11 straight seasons. One famous late night host even got in on the fun, saying simply, “0 for 11? Who do they think they are? Dom Sackett?”
You’ve likely heard the Sackett story by now, but just in case, let’s recap. Sackett was the league’s first high school phenom, starring at Rockford high school where he hit .421/.539/.729 with 11 home runs, 35 walks and just 13 strikeouts in 37 games as a 17-year-old. Akron would select Sackett #1 overall that June, but almost instantly it was clear that Sackett was overmatched, badly. Between winter league and rookie ball, Sackett struck out 95 times and walked just 7. His career never got much better, and he hung up his spikes at the age of 26. Just 10 years after being the most hyped draft prospect in CBL’s young history, Sackett was done playing the game.
“After I retired, I didn’t do anything for a year. I went back to Rockford, and I got kind of fat, I was depressed. I felt like a huge failure,” Sackett tells me as we sip our coffee at a nearby Starbucks. . “Thankfully my old high school coach, Jim Gellar, was still helping out with the baseball team even though he had retired. He got me a job as an assistant coach, just to get me out of my house.”
Sackett would spend the 2025-2028 seasons coaching, unpaid, at Rockford high school, mostly working with hitters.
“He was great,” current Rockford manager and former big leaguer J.R. House told me. “The kids loved him, he was incredibly laid back, just a good guy. “
Late in the 2028 season, Sackett received a phone call that would change the narrative on his life forever. The Minneapolis Millers needed a rookie league manager for their Georgetown team, and felt Sackett’s background made him the ideal candidate. When they offered officially, Sackett accepted instantly. At 32 years old, Sackett was officially a baseball coach. But unlike his rookie league debut as a player, Sackett excelled from day one.
“We had a lot of talent on that club,” Sackett tells me, and he’s right. That 2029 Georgetown team, which went 34-16 and got all the way to the finals, had Pearl Albright, Sammy Battcher, Ruben Del Valle and Dieter Kokke on offense, as well as Augusto Altagracia, Sammy Overholtzer, and Juan Zarzosa to anchor the staff. All seven players are coming off impressive seasons for the Millers, and they all at least partially credit Sackett’s familiarity with their early success.
Sackett was promoted to the Clearwater rookie league team the following season, and would spend the next four seasons there, compiling a 127-73 record including two playoff appearances. But his final season in Clearwater, 2033, remains one of the most stunning managerial changes in baseball history.
Following a 102-60 regular season, Manager James Thwaites and the Millers entered the 2033 post-season with, as usual, high hopes. The team, however, fell behind 2 games to 0 to the California Dreamers, behind several questionable managerial decisions from Thwaites.
The media was wondering aloud if Thwaites would return for the 2034 season if the Millers once again failed to bring home a championship. The Millers front-office, however, had a different idea. They fired Thwaites. In the MIDDLE OF THE SERIES. News outlets were shocked. The Millers were labeled “unprofessional” by several analysts. AND, not only did they fire their former manager of the year in the middle of the series, they had promoted minor league manager and former massive bust Dom Sackett to save the day?
Sackett would lead the Millers to a win in his first game, but the team would lose game 4 and the series to the Dreamers. Another lost season. Thwaites was hired by the St. Louis Sultans for the 2034 season, and saw the team he managed go from 102-60 to 60-102.
While Thwaites was wilting away in St. Louis, Sackett led the Millers to a league record 128 wins in his first season as a CBL manager. One GM snarked that Sackett had been “given a Ferrari” because the Millers had traded several minor leaguers to stack their big league team.
While the Millers ultimately came up short once again, the 37-year-old Sackett was awarded the Manager of the Year award, a mere formality after beginning his career 128-34. While an encore next season is all but impossible, a championship would be much sweeter anyway.
As Sackett gets up and leaves the coffee shop, a Millers fan notices him from a few feet away.
“Hey, you’re the Millers manager!” The fan shouts excitedly. Sackett poses for a picture and signs an autograph.
Five years ago someone would’ve called him the biggest bust, and Sackett is clearly happy to have a different identity these days.