With a new manager in the mix for the Orioles in Buck Showalter, and with Showalter at work over the last week building his own personal staff, one former skipper of the Baltimore club joined WNST earlier in the week to weigh his opinion on the direction of his former team and of the World Champion San Francisco Giants.
Mike Hargrove, who managed the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles in his 16-year professional baseball career, joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” this week to discuss Showalter and the state of the Orioles as well as his thoughts on the World Series.
Hargrove managed the Orioles from 2000-2003 for four seasons, and was the team’s first high-profile manager since the team relieved Davey Johnson of his managing duties.
Hargrove recently was the manager of the Liberal BeeJays until 2009, a semi-pro summer league baseball team in Kansas-a team that has produced players like Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, Rich Harden, Astros OF Hunter Pence, Rays C Kelly Shoppach, former closer Troy Percival, and OF Scott Hairston.
He coached the team immediately after resigning his position as manager of the Seattle Mariners in 2007 despite the team having a 45-33 record and currently on a huge winning streak.
“Contractually, I cant talk about it,” Hargrove told Forrester of the mystery surrounding his departure from Seattle. “I feel a little uncomfortable talking about it. Let’s put it this way. I never lost my passion for the game, and I really liked the players on that ballclub. They played hard, and they played to win and it was a good situation in that regard.”
His job with Liberal is one that is a little more relieving for Hargrove than his past MLB managerial jobs. When he initially signed on with the BeeJays, his wife-his agent-had Hargrove sign with the team for one season and a very bizarre rate for a salary-one dollar.
“It’s a town in Liberal, Kansas…and growing up there I was always interested in what the BeeJays were doing,” Hargrove said, who before his playing days with the Texas Rangers suited up for the BeeJays. “They won five national championships, and this number may be low, but there is something like 48-52 major league players who have come through and played.
“My wife and I were on our way back from Seattle to Cleveland in ’07 after I resigned, and we stopped by to see my relation in Texas. Bob Carlisle, the general manager, and my wife conspire all the time anyway, and he mentioned to her in jest that if Mike would like to come back and get it back on the right track. They had really fallen on hard times, and in fact the club was real close to folding up and ceasing to exist. Sharon mentioned it to me on the way home…and I said sure I’ll do it for one year. I’ll come back and do it for one year. Obviously I wasn’t doing anything that next summer anyway.”
“I went back and enjoyed my time…and we ended up fourth in the nation and I had a blast. They asked me if I’d do it for another year, and I said I’d do it for one more year. We finished third in the nation that year, and we got the thing back on track.”
Hargrove said that he sees a lot of himself in the current manager, Buck Showalter, and he said that those Orioles fans looking for a winner have one in Buck.
“I think a big step in that direction took place over this last year with the hiring of Buck Showalter,” Hargrove said. “You saw how Buck made a difference in how the Orioles played the game, and the success they had on the field.”
In a way, the transition that Showalter is going through now is similar to his tenure here in Baltimore in the early part of the decade. After the cleaning of house of the previous organization, Hargrove-who enjoyed a ton of success as manager of the Cleveland Indians including five straight playoff appearances-said on top of not being left with much to work with, the young players on the roster kept getting hurt during the four seasons Hargrove was in the dugout for the Orioles.
“At that time I just felt like the team was getting old…(continued),