Stephen Vogt ’07 Named Manager of Cleveland Guardians

by Nathan Foster

Today will go down as one of the most significant moments in the history of Azusa Pacific athletics. Stephen Vogt ’07 was named the new manager of the Cleveland Guardians—the first APU alumnus to become a head coach of a major league team. Vogt has big shoes to fill, replacing future Hall of Fame manager Terry Francona who led the Guardians for the past 11 seasons. Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president of baseball operations, is certain he’s the right man for the job.

“Stephen earned a reputation as one of the best teammates in the game across his 16-year career as a player, and we’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him over the past several weeks,” Antonetti said in a statement. “Stephen has thought critically about the type of leader and manager he wants to be. His deep care for others, his ability to build meaningful relationships with those around him, and his open-mindedness and curiosity make him an ideal fit to lead our club moving forward. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Stephen.”

A two-time All Star, Vogt played 10 seasons in the MLB, primarily with the Oakland A’s. Across that span, he batted . 239 with a .301 on-base-percentage and 82 career home runs. While he had many big moments in his career, including hitting a walk-off single in the 2013 American League Division Series and winning a World Series as a member of the Atlanta Braves, Vogt’s most memorable moment was his final game in 2022 when he homered in his last at bat. Vogt is one of only three players in MLB history to hit a home run for his first and final career hits. After Vogt retired from playing, he spent the last year as the bullpen and quality control coach for the Seattle Mariners.

During his time with the A’s, Vogt was a consistent leader in the clubhouse and a four-time winner of the Catfish Hunter Award, which is given to the A's player whose play on the field and conduct in the clubhouse best exemplifies the competitive, inspirational, and courageous spirit of Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter. He also earned the A’s Dave Stewart Community Service Award three times for his efforts in the community. Vogt was one of the most beloved A’s of the last decade, a hero on and off the field. The chant, “I Believe in Stephen Vogt,” often rang out whenever he would step to the plate, and it can be found on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and many other places. The Guardians even mimicked it in their announcement, saying “We believe in Stephen Vogt.”

Before Vogt broke out in the MLB, he had a historic career at APU, which included:

  • Three-time NAIA All-American (2005-07)
  • Four-time All-Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) honoree (2004-07)
  • Two-time GSAC Player of the Year (2005, 2007)
  • Setting nine APU records, including highest career batting average (.451), career hits (294), career doubles (74), career RBIs (199), career walks (158), single season hits (108), and single season doubles (26)
  • Leading the Cougars to their best record in program history (51-10) and an NAIA World Series appearance in 2007
  • 30-game hit streak
  • 84-game streak reaching base
  • Inducted into the Cougar Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019.

Athletic director Gary Pine reflected on Vogt’s APU days after hearing the Guardians announcement. “Anyone who knows Stephen well is not surprised that he has risen to this level of leadership so quickly in his career,” Pine said. “He was an outstanding leader even as a young player at Azusa Pacific, and his ability to relate to all types of people was clearly evident even then. He is a terrific man of God, and will represent his family name, his alma mater, and the Guardians with the highest level of integrity and honor.”

When Vogt announced his retirement as a player in 2022, he declared that his next dream was to become a big league manager one day. Today, that dream came true.

Nathan Foster '20 is APU's public relations manager in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement.