In addition to my full time job, blogging for my own site, being a good husband/father and trying to keep up with an eating and alcohol problem...I've decided to blog baseball for www.fwgmlb.com. The site's owner, Rob Lunn, has been after me to blog for him in some capacity for quite awhile. When the chance came to blog about the sport that I love the most, the game of baseball, I decided to jump on board. Rob's a talented writer who's taken a college project and turned it into a career in media.
The site is just a baby at this point (2 weeks old) but we are hoping for big things. Please check it out, bookmark it, subscribe to it, follow it and tell your friends. You can catch up with my posts here. My most recent post was about the summer 20 years ago when current Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman coached me...hope you enjoy.
Batting Practice With Trey Hillman
It was the summer of 1989, I was a few months away from obtaining my drivers license and a few months past finally cutting the mullet that I had been working the previous few years. The better part of that summer was spent playing baseball, wiffleball or hitting wadded up paper balls with a window squeegee. When I wasn’t playing ball, I was following it. Specifically, I was following my hometown single A minor league team, the Prince William Cannons.
It didn’t matter that the Cannons were affiliated with the Yankees, although it would have been a lot better if they weren’t. The Cannons put together a magical 2nd half to that season and ended up winning the league championship. I was there to see a lot of those games and no player or coach had a bigger impact on that team than current Royals manager Trey Hillman.
The tiny stadium in Woodbridge, Va has seen a lot of great ballplayers play for the hometown Prince William team there over the years. Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Bernie Williams or Andy Pettitte…ring any bells? However, it was not any of those players that I’ll remember most about watching those teams as a kid, I’ll never forget Trey.
The records show that Stump Merrill was the manager of the 89’ Cannons, however he missed a lot of games due to illness. Trey was the 3rd base coach and took over the team in Stump's absence. I used to stand along the 3rd base line and chat with Trey during games and he’d do cool things like give me foul balls. Sometime during that summer it was announced that the Cannons would be holding a camp for youth baseball players, I signed up right away. My buddy Chris and I turned out to be the only 2 non-grade school kids to show up for the camp. We were both on the high school baseball team and had talent. It was during this 2 day camp that Trey took us to the side and did what comes naturally to him, he coached baseball.
The camp was set to take place on the practice fields outside the main stadium. However, Trey took Chris and I inside the main stadium and worked with us for the better part of 2 days, personal 1 on 1 instruction with a future major league manager. Although I would later play organized games on that very field and eventually play in several minor league stadiums in my baseball career, that was the first time I got the experience of playing in that kind of scenery. It was super cool to walk thru the clubhouse and step out onto the manicured field and have the whole place to ourselves. Trey went thru bucket and after bucket of balls, pitching batting practice for hours in the hot Virginia sun…I was in the zone at the plate the rest of that summer. At the time Trey was just 26 years old, his own professional career (3 years in the minors) only recently over. I’m sure there was a lot of other things he would have rather been doing…no I’m sure there wasn’t anything else he’d rather be doing, he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as Chris and I.
Trey would be named manager of the Oneonta Yankees single A team in 1990. I’ve never seen him again. He toiled in the minors for 11 seasons as a minor league manager, reaching the Yankees AAA level. He then went overseas to manage in Japan for 5 seasons, winning a championship there. Finally, in 2007, after nearly 20 years in the minors and Japan, Trey was named as manager of the Royals. He worked hard and made his dreams come true.
As for me, I got my driver’s license which allowed me to score chicks and booze. I spent more time focusing on those 2 things than I did baseball. I now work in the automobile industry and blog for some guy named the “Fat White Guy.” I’m living the dream!