At 70, Detroit’s Jim Essian still racking up rings, and ringing endorsements, with USPBL

When Andy Appleby had the idea to start an independent professional baseball league, practically in the shadows of the Detroit Tigers and Comerica Park, there were more than a few snickers and crooked eyebrows, mostly from the media.

The skepticism subsided, and much of that can be traced to one man, former major-league player and manager Jim Essian, a native Detroiter who gave the United Shore Professional Baseball League instant credibility when he signed on as assistant coach for Year 1 in 2016.

“Oh, yeah, for sure,” said Justin Orenduff, the USPBL’s director of baseball operations.

“People respect him.”

Former major-league player, coach and manager Jim Essian is finishing his fifth season as a manager with the USPBL in Utica.

Essian, 70, quickly moved into a manager’s role, and eventually became the league’s chief scout, not just filling his own roster for the Utica Unicorns, but also much of the other three teams’ rosters, too. This weekend, he will go for a third consecutive league championship.

Utica plays in the final at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, against an opponent that will be determined during playoff games Friday and Saturday.

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