Coach (baseball)

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New York Yankees' manager Joe Torre (far right) with coaches (from left to right) Kevin Long, Ron Guidry, and Don Mattingly Torre and coaches.jpg
New York Yankees' manager Joe Torre (far right) with coaches (from left to right) Kevin Long, Ron Guidry, and Don Mattingly

In baseball, a number of coaches assist in the smooth functioning of a team. They are assistants to the manager, who determines the lineup and decides how to substitute players during the game. Beyond the manager, more than a half dozen coaches may assist the manager in running the team. Essentially, baseball coaches are analogous to assistant coaches in other sports, as the baseball manager is to the head coach.

Contents

Roles of professional baseball coaches

Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack wearing a suit instead of a team uniform Connie Mack & Ira Thomas, 1914.jpg
Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack wearing a suit instead of a team uniform

Baseball is unique in that the manager and coaches typically all wear numbered uniforms similar to those of the players. Notable exceptions to this were Baseball Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack, who always wore a black suit during his 50 years at the helm of the Philadelphia Athletics, and Burt Shotton, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the late 1940s, who wore a Dodger 200 cap and a team jacket over street clothes in the dugout. After the widespread adoption of numbered uniforms in the early 1930s, Joe McCarthy, another Hall of Fame manager, wore a full uniform but no number on his back for the remainder of his career (with the New York Yankees, then the Boston Red Sox). Coincidentally, all three men retired during or after the same season—1950.

Full-time coaches in professional baseball date to 1909, when John McGraw of the New York Giants engaged Arlie Latham and Wilbert Robinson as coaches. [1] By the 1920s, most Major League teams had two full-time coaches, although the manager often doubled as third-base coach and specialists such as pitching coaches were rare. After World War II, most MLB teams listed between three and five coaches on their roster, as managers increasingly ran their teams from the dugout full-time, and appointed pitching and bullpen coaches to assist them and the baseline coaches. Batting and bench coaches came into vogue during the 1960s and later. [1] Because of the proliferation of uniformed coaches in the modern game, by the late 2000s Major League Baseball had restricted the number of uniformed staff to six coaches and one manager during the course of a game. [2] Beginning with the 2013 season, clubs are permitted to employ a seventh uniformed coach, designated the assistant hitting coach, at their own discretion. [3]

Bench coach

The first bench coach in baseball was George Huff, who took that helm for the Illinois Fighting Illini baseball in 1905; at the time, it meant a coach present throughout the season. [4]

More recently, the bench coach is a team's second-in-command. The bench coach serves as an in-game advisor to the manager, offering situational advice, and bouncing ideas back and forth in order to assist the manager in making game decisions. [5] If the manager is ejected, suspended, or unable to attend a game for any reason, the bench coach assumes the position of acting manager. If the manager is fired or resigns during the season, it is usually the bench coach who gets promoted to interim manager. The bench coach's responsibilities also include helping to set up the day's practice and stretching routines before a game, as well as coordinating spring training routines and practices. [6]

Pitching and bullpen coaches

A pitching coach mentors and trains teams' pitchers. He advises the manager on the condition of pitchers and their arms, and serves as an in-game coach for the pitcher currently on the mound. When a manager makes a visit to the mound, he typically is doing so to make a pitching change or to discuss situational defense. However, to talk about mechanics or how to pitch to a particular batter, the pitching coach is the one who will typically visit the mound. The pitching coach is generally a former pitcher. One exception is Dave Duncan, the former pitching coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was a catcher. Prior to the early 1950s, pitching coaches were usually former catchers. [7]

The bullpen coach is similar to a pitching coach, but works primarily with relief pitchers in the bullpen. He does not make mound visits; rather, he stays in the bullpen the entire game, working with relievers who are warming up to enter the game. Generally, the bullpen coach is either a former pitcher or catcher.

Offensive coaches: hitting coach and base coaches

A hitting coach, as the name suggests, works with a team's players to improve their hitting techniques and form. He monitors players' swings during the game and over the course of the season, advising them when necessary between at-bats on adjustments to make. He also oversees their performance during practices, cage sessions, and pre-game batting practice. With the advent of technology, hitting coaches are increasingly utilizing video to analyze their hitters along with scouting the opposing pitchers. Video has allowed hitting coaches to clearly illustrate problem areas in the swing, making the adjustment period quicker for the player being analyzed. This process is typically called video analysis.

Brian Snitker as third base coach for the Atlanta Braves in 2008. Brian Snitker.jpg
Brian Snitker as third base coach for the Atlanta Braves in 2008.

Two on-field coaches are present when the team is at bat. Stationed in designated coaches' boxes near first and third base, they are appropriately named base coaches—individually, first base coach and third base coach. They assist in the direction of baserunners, help prevent pickoffs, and relay signals sent from the manager in the dugout to runners and batters. While the first base coach is primarily responsible for the batter as to whether he stops at first base or not or for a runner already on first, the third base coach carries more responsibility. His duties include holding or sending runners rounding second and third bases, as well as having to make critical, split-second decisions about whether to try to score a runner on a hit, and accounting for the arm strength of the opposing team's fielder and the speed and position of his baserunner.

Additional coaching responsibilities

The bench coach, third base coach, and first base coach often are assigned additional responsibility for assisting players in specific areas, particularly defense. Common designations include outfield instructor, infield instructor, catching instructor, and baserunning instructor. [8] When a coaching staff is assembled, the selection of the first base coach is frequently made with the purpose of filling a gap in these coaching responsibilities, as the actual in-game duties of a first base coach are relatively light.

Other coaches

Teams may also employ individuals to work with players in other areas or activities. These positions sometimes include the word "coach" in their titles. Individuals holding these positions usually do not dress in uniform during games, as the number of uniformed coaches is restricted by Major League Baseball rules. The most prominent of these positions are the athletic trainer and the strength and conditioning coach. All Major League Baseball teams employ an athletic trainer; most employ a strength and conditioning coach. Other positions include bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher. Some teams also employ additional coaches without specific responsibilities.

Minor and amateur leagues

In general, Major League Baseball teams will have one person specifically assigned to each coaching position described above. However, minor league and amateur teams typically have coaches fulfill multiple responsibilities. A typical minor league/amateur team coaching structure will have a manager, a pitching coach, and a hitting coach, each of whom also assumes the responsibilities of the first and third base coaches, bullpen coach, etc. In U.S. college baseball, the title "manager" is not used; the person who fills the role of a professional manager is instead called the "head coach".

See also

Related Research Articles

Pitcher The player responsible for throwing ("pitching") the ball to the batters in a game of baseball or softball

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Catcher defensive position in baseball and softball played behind home plate, facing the field

Catcher is a position for a baseball or softball player. When a batter takes his/her turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the (home) umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. In addition to this primary duty, the catcher is also called upon to master many other skills in order to field the position well. The role of the catcher is similar to that of the wicket-keeper in cricket, but in cricket, wicketkeepers are increasingly known for their batting abilities.

Relief pitcher baseball or softball pitcher who relieves a previous pitcher

In baseball and softball, a relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to injury, ineffectiveness, fatigue, ejection, or for other strategic reasons, such as inclement weather delays or pinch hitter substitutions. Relief pitchers are further divided informally into various roles, such as closers, setup men, middle relief pitchers, left/right-handed specialists, and long relievers. Whereas starting pitchers usually rest several days before pitching in a game again due to the number of pitches thrown, relief pitchers are expected to be more flexible and typically pitch more games but with fewer innings pitched. A team's staff of relievers is normally referred to metonymically as a team's bullpen, which refers to the area where the relievers sit during games, and where they warm-up prior to entering the game.

Manager (baseball) Someone who manages a baseball team

In baseball, the field manager is the equivalent of a head coach who is responsible for overseeing and making final decisions on all aspects of on-field team strategy, lineup selection, training and instruction. Managers are typically assisted by a staff of assistant coaches whose responsibilities are specialized. Field managers are typically not involved in off-field personnel decisions or long-term club planning, responsibilities that are instead held by a team's general manager.

Rick Dempsey American baseball player

John Rikard Dempsey is an American former professional baseball player. He played for 24 seasons as a catcher in Major League Baseball from 1969 to 1992, most notably for the Baltimore Orioles. Dempsey was known for being one of the best defensive catchers of his era. In 1997, he was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.

Lance Parrish American baseball player and manager

Lance Michael Parrish, nicknamed "Big Wheel", is an American former professional baseball player who played as a catcher in Major League Baseball from 1977 through 1995. He played for the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, California Angels, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Toronto Blue Jays. He was most recently the manager of the West Michigan Whitecaps. He was regarded as one of the best catchers in the 1980s for both his offensive and defensive play. He currently serves as a special assistant to the general manager of the Detroit Tigers.

Baseball field field on which baseball is played (for the whole stadium, see baseball park)

A baseball field, also called a ball field, sandlot or a baseball diamond, is the field upon which the game of baseball is played. The term can also be used as a metonym for a baseball park.

John Gibbons American baseball player and manager

John Michael Gibbons is an American former professional baseball player and former manager of the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball (MLB). Gibbons briefly played in the Major Leagues as a catcher with the New York Mets, in the mid-1980s. On September 26, 2018, the Blue Jays confirmed that Gibbons would not return as the manager for the 2019 season.

John Joseph Mizerock is a former Major League Baseball backup catcher for the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves. He was the eighth overall pick in the 1979 Major League Baseball Draft. He later served as a coach for the Kansas City Royals and Philadelphia Phillies. He is currently the hitting coach for the Clearwater Threshers.

John Stearns American baseball player

John Hardin Stearns, nicknamed "Bad Dude", is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) catcher who played for the New York Mets from 1975 to 1984 after playing a single game for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1974. Stearns was a two-sport star in college, and he entered professional baseball after being selected in both the MLB and National Football League drafts. He struggled with injuries in the latter portion of his career. He served as the catching coordinator for the Seattle Mariners and the interim manager of the minor league Tacoma Rainiers before being named third base coach under Lloyd McClendon for the 2014 season. However, Stearns underwent surgery for a hiatal hernia prior to spring training and his slower-than-expected recovery compelled him to resign on March 7, 2014. He remained in the Mariners' organization, however, as a scout for the 2014 season. After attending a memorial service for his high school baseball coach in 2015, he said he was not sure how he would be involved with baseball again.

This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, along with their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.

The 1988 Cleveland Indians season was the 88th season for the franchise. The team, managed by Doc Edwards, finished sixth in the American League East.

References

  1. 1 2 Thorne, John, and Palmer, Pete, eds., Total Baseball. New York: Warner Books, 1989, page 2,153
  2. The Associated Press , March 30, 2007
  3. Neyer, Rob (January 15, 2013). "Coming to a dugout near you: Interpreters! Assistant hitting coaches!". SBNation.com.
  4. Gagnon, Cappy (2004). Notre Dame Baseball Greats: From Anson to Yaz. Arcadia Publishing. p. 47. ISBN   0738532622 . Retrieved 2014-10-29. Before the 1905 season, when George Huff took the helm for the University of Illinois, no college had ever employed a bench coach. Before that time (and for another 5-10 years at most colleges), anyone listed as 'coach' was either a professional player hired as the pre-season teacher of baseball, or was the player-coach or captain of the team.
  5. "The Role of the Bench Coach" – The Birdhouse Archived October 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. "More than just a side job: For a manager, bench coach is a trusted confidant" – Boston Globe
  7. Zimniuch, Fran (2010). Fireman: The Evolution of the Closer in Baseball. Chicago: Triumph Books. p.  73. ISBN   978-1-60078-312-8.
  8. "The Mets' Next Third Base Coach" NY Daily News