By STEVE KRAH
Andy McManama has learned there is power in precision when it comes to life and baseball and has demonstrated this as an an instructor/mentor at World Baseball Academy and assistant coach at Carroll High School — both in Fort Wayne, Ind.
His father — Terry McManama — was a longtime assistant coach to Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Famer Mark Grove and a Business teacher at Churubusco (Ind.) High School that passed along the importance of structure to he and wife Marla’s only child.
“It’s being on-time and being detailed,” says Andy McManama. “There’s work to be done. If we practice hard we can have fun and play games, but we have to make sure our work is getting done first.”
His grandfather owned a horse farm and was involved in harness racing. Andy was a 9-year Whitley County 4-H Horse & Pony Club member and worked his way through the offices of secretary, treasurer, vice president and president. The fairgrounds are in Columbia City.
“Growing up whether it was the baseball side or having a horse side it’s we’ve got some work to do to take care of things,” says McManama. “That’s always been a family thing — working hard for what you have.”
McManama grew up attending many World Baseball Academy programs, played catcher at Carroll for head coach and NEIBA Hall of Famer Dave Ginder and graduated in 2009 — the same year he became a World Baseball Academy intern with the RBI program (now On Deck Initiative for underserved and at-risk boys and girls).
Andy has applied his guiding principles as an instructor as well as Ginder’s bullpen coach. He has been on the staff since 2016.
“I’ve enjoyed being in that program and just how much attention to detail there is,” says McManama. “It’s how my brain functions and is wired.
“We dot our i’s and cross our t’s. Our kids play hard. That hasn’t changed since before (Ginder started leading the Carroll program).”
The IHSAA adopted a pitch count rule (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days) that went into effect during the 2017 season and rule now includes all levels.
“I think it works well,” says McManama. “It all comes down to player safety. With 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids, their bodies are still developing. It’s really good from not overusing (their arms).
“The IHSAA has done a good job. It’s regulated now. It’s not just a free-for-all or everybody can do whatever they want.”
McManama notes that all pitch counts are not the same.
“A 100-pitch seven-inning outing is completely different to a 100-pitch three-inning outing,” says McManama. “You could have three high-stress innings and that makes a big difference.
“If a kid has 60 to 80 pitches through three he probably isn’t going to make it to his 100 or 120 unless you have to. Those are high-stress innings that don’t help the kids arm or body for sure.”
Coach Mac has served in several capacities at the ASH Centre, including tournament director and director of operations. This year, he took a full-time job with Allen Business Machines but still provides group and one-on-one lessons at World Baseball Academy two times a week as well as helping at Carroll.
“I enjoy working with catchers and pitchers quite a bit,” says McManama. “Lesson-wise we’ll do it all.”
With World Baseball Academy, McManama traveled to Bulgaria and worked with the Bulgarian Baseball Federation in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 made a visit to Kenya in 2013. A group from Bulgaria came to Fort Wayne in 2014.
“Those trips are eye-opening,” says McManama. “You see how other kids live and interact on the other side of the world.
“It’s a humbling experience on how many things we have here that we take for granted sometimes. It makes you appreciate a lot more.
“Being able to work with kids and see them grow — not just from an athletic perspective but as a young adult — is pretty gratifying to me.”
Locally, the WBA partners with schools and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne through its On Deck Initiative. There are more than 1,000 kids involved in the program.
McManama was raised as a Chicago Cubs fan and attended his first game at Wrigley Field while in elementary school.
At the horse farm, the radio was often tuned to the Cubs broadcast with Pat Hughes and Ron Santo in the spring or summer and Purdue football or basketball in the fall or winter.
“I actually prefer the radio broadcast for the Cubs rather than TV sometimes,” says McManama. “(Hughes and Santo) kept it interesting.”
Santo went into the National Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 2012. Hughes is the Hall of Fame’s 2023 Ford C. Frick Award winner.
McManama was in Cincinnati when Sammy Sosa slugged his 500th career home run April 4, 2003. The clout came on a 1-2 pitch from reliever Scott Sullivan and the opposite-field blast sailed over the wall in right.
More proof of his Cubs leanings: Andy has two female dogs named Ivy (8-year-old Australian Shepherd) and Wrigley (14-year-old Beagle/Lab mix).
Andy resides in Fort Wayne and is engaged to Tabitha Marrs.