HELENA – The Helena American Legion Baseball program didn’t have to look far for its new manager.
General manager Greg Thornquist told MTN Sports Sunday evening that Jon Burnett has been hired to replace the retired Dave Thennis as head coach of the American Legion Class AA club. Thennis announced his retirement last week.
“The baseball board met on Saturday and unanimously agreed that Jon be the head coach,” said Thornquist. “Jon has been involved with the program for maybe 14 years, he is a wonderful coach, which is apparent by his record coupled with his baseball knowledge, love of the game and ability to work with the kids and fellow coaches.”
“I’m very excited to continue the tradition coach Thennis has established,” said Burnett. I’ve coached with him and been a player for him in the last 17 years. There will be a lot of similarities in the way we run the program, I’ll have my own twist but it will be a very similar style in the program.”
Burnett, a former Senator player, has guided the Class A Helena Reps and compiled a 216-86-1 record in the past seven seasons, good for a .715 winning percentage. The Reps posted a 43-14 record this past season, including a 21-7 mark in conference play. Helena went 1-2 at the district tournament, ending its season in a loss against Bozeman.
“I’ve been head coach of the Reps for seven years and assistant for seven years so I’m not new to the scene but pretty excited to get to coach against and be colleagues with some of those guys that are established at the AA level,” said Burnett.
Burnett takes over for Thennis, who led the Senators to three consecutive state titles beginning in 2001. Thennis amassed more than 650 wins during his 20-year run with the program.
“We have a pretty strong core of kids that will be moving up but we lose quite a few seniors this year so it will be interesting to see how younger kids work into the AA side,” Burnett said. “I’m excited to see them continually grow and we have some pretty solid kids coming back, especially our pitching staff. I’m excited for next year, see how kids grow and step into the role of AA players.”