BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The Burlington Sock Puppets, defending back-to-back East Division Champions, announced that Anthony Essien is coming back for his fourth season in Sockville, second full season as manager. Essien has been a part of the Sock Puppets organization since the change to summer collegiate back in 2021. He has served as pitching coach in 2021 and 2022, as well as manager in the back half of 2022 and 2023. Essien has a managerial record of (38-26) and has won the East Division in both years at the helm.
"I’m excited to be back with the Sock Puppets for the 2024 season," Essien said, "this is the best organization in the league and I’m looking forward to helping this year’s players develop. The city of Burlington and the fans have embraced the Sock Puppets since the Appy League switched to a summer collegiate league. The past three seasons here have not just helped me become a better coach but there isn't enough superlatives to describe the relationships that I've been fortunate enough to build during my time in Burlington; this place has really become a second home to me."
General Manager Anderson Rathbun couldn't be more excited to bring back a much familiar face to Burlington Athletic Stadium: "To have a guy like Ant, who has such a great understanding of the game of baseball and how to develop these athletes," Rathbun said, "but also understands what an organization like ours can mean to our community... there isn't a more perfect fit."
The 2024 schedule has yet to be released, but one thing is for certain; Essien is determined to bring a championship back home to Burlington.
Anthony Essien Bio:
Anthony Essien begins his ninth year at Reedley College after spending 17 years as an Assistant Coach at Clovis High School. In his first season with the Tigers, Essien was instrumental in guiding the Tigers to the California State playoffs for the first time since 1963. Under Essien’s tutelage, Tiger catcher Alan Crowley was selected Central Valley Conference Player of the Year, All-State, 2nd Team All American, and was selected and signed by the Atlanta Braves in the 2016 Amateur player draft in the 26th round. In Essien’s 2nd season the Tigers advanced to the state playoffs again defeating Lassen before losing to eventual state runner-up Santa Rosa in Game 3 of the three-game series. In 2018 Essien took over the pitching coach duties and helped the Tigers to the State playoffs for the third consecutive season. The Tigers Pitching staff finished 6th in the state with a 3.28 ERA. Cal State Fullerton commit Brady Barcellos was selected 1st Team All Central Valley Conference along with closer Sid Lacy, who finished tied for saves with eight in the State. In 2020, the Tigers were 15-6 at the mid-point of the season before the pandemic shut down the rest of the season. The pitching staff at the time of the season stoppage was 2nd in the State of California in ERA with a 2.40 under Essien. The 2023 Tigers finished 30-15-1 and defeated Feather River in the Regional Playoff Best of 3 series, beat Canada in the first game of the Super Regionals before dropping two games to Santa Rosa. Essien developed Tiger closer Elijah Acosta who went on to become an All-State and 3rd Team All-American in 2023 as he finished with a record of 4-0 with 10 saves. In the last six seasons as the Tiger pitching Coach, Essien has developed five 1st team All-Central Valley Conference Pitchers and two All Americans. For the past three summers, Essien has been the pitching coach and most currently the manager for the Sock Puppets in the Appy League, where they were the East Division Champions in 2022 and 2023.
Essien was a three-year letterman at Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Calif., where he graduated in 1989. He moved on to Mendocino Junior College in 1990 where he was a pitcher for the Eagles. He graduated from Fresno State in 2001 where he received a degree in Kinesiology. Essien received his Master’s degree in Exercise Science from Cal Baptist University in 2021. He served as a pitching coach at Bishop Montgomery High School in 1992. He then moved to Clovis High School where he was instrumental in the success of one of the most storied Baseball programs in the country. Essien was part of seven Valley championships, three State championships and two National championships in 1997 and 1998. During his tenure at Clovis he coached more than 50 players that moved on to College, more than 20 players that played in the Minor Leagues, and one Major Leaguer (Ryan Cook).
Along with coaching the Pitchers and Catchers, Essien will be an integral part in all recruiting aspects for the Tigers. He has been married to his wife Ali for four years, and he has two daughters, Petra and Dottie, and three step-sons, Tanner, Koby and Kael.