GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — After a dominating 79-47 season, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball had no choice but to let Gastonia Honey Hunters manager Mauro “Goose” Gozzo keep his top manager trophy.

On Thursday, the league awarded Gozzo top ALPB manager honors for the second straight season. It’s the first time in the league’s 25-year history that a manager took home top honors two straight seasons. He’s managed in the league for four seasons.

“I am honored to be named Manager of the Year for the 2023 season,” Gozzo said. “This award would not have been possible without the talented players, (Hitting coach) Chuckie “Ballgame” Stewart, our trainer Anna McCraw, and especially Assistant General Manager Brady Salisbury. Thank you to the Atlantic League for this recognition.”

The Honey Hunters fell in the final game of their season, losing to the Lancaster Barnstorms in the ALPB championship series. The team took the South Division Championship, beating rival High Point this season.

The former big league pitcher led the team through two consecutive record-breaking seasons (2022 and 2023). Under Gozzo’s tutelage, 11 player contracts were purchased from Gastonia by MLB, MLB affiliates, or overseas leagues, creating opportunities for players to advance in their careers.

Gozzo’s overall career managerial record is 293-235 through 21 seasons, while he is 221-157 in Gastonia. Gozzo was in the first year of a three-year contract to coach the team. He signed the deal last November after the team’s 88-44 record. The Honey Hunters broke the ALPB record for most stolen bases by a team in a regular season. In 2022, the team was the first and second half South Division Champions.

The Connecticut native played in the major leagues from 1989 to 1994, stopping in Toronto, Cleveland, Minnesota, and New York (Mets). He was the 13th round draft pick of the 1984 Major League Baseball draft.