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The Denton Outlaws, one of the two new Texas Collegiate League (TCL) teams, have added former Texas Ranger and Arlington Martin pitcher Todd Van Poppel to the organization’s management team, General Manager John Hampton announced on Monday.

The Outlaws will open its inaugural season on June 7 at Mineral Wells with its first home game on June 9 against Graham.

“I want a fun environment for the college students to return to,” said Van Poppel. “A place for players to enjoy the game of baseball and have the opportunity to come back to visit family and friends. More often the players see the game as just a business and here, it will be fun for everyone.”

Van Poppel was regarded as a legendary baseball figure in the North Texas area as the righty was one of the top high school pitchers in the country when he was playing at Martin in the late 1980s. The Oakland Athletics selected the 20-year-old as the 14th pick in the 1990 draft, where he showcased his best play with 13 games won over the 1993 and 1994 seasons combined. Van Poppel retired from the big leagues during spring training with the New York Mets after pitching for six major league teams over the course of 11 seasons.

Outlaws player personnel director Sam Carpenter, who is a long time friend of Van Poppel, met with him several times over the last few weeks to determine what role he will take for the organization. Van Poppel has expressed a desire to work in any capacity that could help establish the Denton franchise as a baseball haven.

“I will do whatever it takes to provide an atmosphere for the Denton community where the focus is completely on family fun and entertainment,” said Van Poppel. “The community should know that this area is one of the most recruited areas in the country for baseball prospects.”

Van Poppel joins Jim Leslie, the CEO of Leslie Enterprises and former CEO of The Staubach Co., to the ownership team of the Outlaws.

“Todd brings a great deal of creditability to this organization,” Hampton said. “He experienced a great deal of success when he was the age of most of our players. The lessons he learned through his experiences are extremely valuable to each of our players. He will be a great role model to both the Outlaws and the many great players being developed in the Denton community.”

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