Dennis Pelfrey returns to the Flying Squirrels as the club's manager for the 2023 season, his second year managing at the Double-A level. He spent the 2021 season as the manager for the Eugene Emeralds, champions of the High-A West.
Pelfrey was born in Arlington, Texas. He graduated from Bowie High School in Arlington, where he played baseball and football and was teammates for former major leaguer Vernon Wells. He attended Northwood University's Cedar Hill, Texas campus for his collegiate career. Pelfrey played six professional seasons in independent leagues from 1999-2004. He was a manager and coach in independent leagues beginning in 2011 prior to joining the Giants organization in 2020.
Pelfrey played collegiate baseball as a shortstop for the Northwood University Knights, which was an NAIA program in Cedar Hill, Texas.
He began his professional playing career as a shortstop in 1999 with the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings of the independent Texas-Louisiana League at the age of 21, hitting .225 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 53 games.
The following season, Pelfrey signed with the Dubois County Dragons in Huntingsburg, Ind., for the team's second season in the independent Frontier League. That year, he moved over to primarily playing second base.
Pelfrey returned to Dubois County for the 2001 season under new manager Greg Tagert and played most of his games at third base while also spending time at second base and shortstop. He hit .290 with six homers as the Dragons won the western division title and reached the Frontier League playoffs for the first time.
In 2002, Pelfrey spent a third season with Dubois County under new hitting coach Andy Haines, brother of current Giants Director of Player Development Kyle Haines and now the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers. That season, Pelfrey had the best offensive year of his career, hitting .297 with five homers and 55 RBIs. The Dragons repeated as champions of the Frontier League's western division that year.
Following the 2002 season, the Dragons moved to Wisconsin and became the Kenosha Mammoths. Heading into the 2003 season, Pelfrey transitioned to a new defensive position as a catcher. He won the starting catcher job to begin the year, but he missed part of the season with a broken collarbone after a collision at home plate. He was selected as a Frontier League All-Star that season.
Pelfrey returned to his home state of Texas in 2004, signing with the Fort Worth Cats of the independent Central League. He played 52 games before rejoining Tagert with the Springfield/Ozark Ducks, which had moved to Missouri from Wisconsin that year, to finish the season and his playing career.
Over six professional seasons, Pelfrey played 412 games and hit .256 with 26 homers and 182 RBIs.
In 2006, Pelfrey began his coaching career at South Grand Prairie High School in Texas, where he also taught a business computer class. He held that position for eight years through 2015.
He continued that role as he moved into his professional coaching career in 2011. That year, Pelfrey joined Greg Tagert, his former manager for most of his playing career, with the Gary SouthShore RailCats in Indiana as the club's hitting coach. Current Giants' Director of Player Development Kyle Haines was an infielder for Gary in 2011 and 2012. He spent four seasons with the RailCats, including the team's American Association championship run in 2013, when they defeated the Wichita Wingnuts in the title series.
Pelfrey earned his first managerial job in 2015 when he was hired to lead the Florence Freedom in Kentucky of the independent Frontier League, a role he held for five seasons through 2019. Under his direction, the Freedom posted a .500-or-better record in four seasons.
In his first season in 2015, the Freedom edged the Evansville Otters for a spot in the postseason, but fell late in a one-game playoff to the River City Rascals.
The following year in 2016, Florence posted the lone losing record of Pelfrey's managerial career to date, going 46-49.
In 2017, the Freedom posted a league-best 61-34 record in the regular season. After beating the Washington WildThings in the opening round of the playoffs, Florence fell to the Schaumburg Bombers, managed by Pelfrey's former teammate Jamie Bennett, in the championship series.
Florence narrowly missed the playoffs in 2018, going 49-47 in the regular season.
Pelfrey led Florence back to the postseason in his final Frontier League season in 2019, tying the top record in the league at 57-39. The Freedom swept the Lake Erie Crushers in the first round of the Frontier League playoffs, but dropped a decisive fifth game in the finals to the River City Rascals.
Entering the 2020 season, Pelfrey was hired by the San Francisco Giants to manage the organization's High-A affiliate in San Jose. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season and delayed his affiliated baseball managerial debut.
Pelfrey pivoted back to Kentucky for the summer. Like the Minor League Baseball season, the pandemic canceled Frontier League play in 2020. Teams in Florence and Lexington created a four-team league dubbed the "Battle of the Bourbon Trail," which included the Florence Freedom, Florence Y'alls, Lexington Legends and Lexington Layendas. Pelfrey managed the Freedom. The league included Giants minor leaguers Logan Wyatt, Tyler Fitzgerald and Simon Whiteman.
Minor League Baseball went under a significant realignment entering the 2021 season, and the Giants picked up a new High-A team with the Eugene Emeralds in Oregon. After initially being hired to manage San Jose in the canceled 2020 season, Pelfrey was named the manager of the Emeralds for 2021.
The Emeralds went 69-50 in the inaugural High-A West regular season, finishing in first place, a half-game ahead of the Spokane Indians. Eugene cruised by Spokane in the High-A West Championship Series, three-games-to-one, closing out the title with a 5-0 shutout in Game 4.
On March 3, 2022, Pelfrey was officially announced as the Flying Squirrels' manager.
In his first season with Richmond, he led the team to their first postseason appearance since 2014.