In his second stint as head baseball coach at LaCrosse (Ind.) High School, Snyder expects his Tigers to say “Yes Sir” and “Yes Ma’am” and to keep their hair neat and jerseys tucked in. They must stay on top of their studies.
“Today’s society shies away from discipline,” says Snyder, who led LaCrosse for five seasons (2000-04 with IHSAA Class 1A top-10 rankings in four of those seasons and a West Central Sectional title in 2002) then took time off to raise his children. “There’s a way to win and it does take discipline.”
During his first Tigers tenure, 18 players went on to college baseball in five years.
“I push extremely hard with grades,” says Snyder. “That’s part of the discipline factor. I want people to say that’s a baseball player at the school.
“They know we’re different.”
Snyder derived this approach from the men he encountered along his baseball path. A 1986 graduate of South Central High School at Union Mills, Ind., he played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bob Schellinger and later coached with him. He also coached C-team boys basketball and was involved in Hanna youth baseball.
Snyder was on the Satellites high school baseball staff for 11 years before taking over the reins at LaCrosse.
While still a player, Snyder was on a world champion Junior Olympic team that featured IHSBCA Hall of Famers Ric Tomaszewski and Len Buczkowski plus Jim Dermody among the coaches. These men all ran extremely disciplined high school programs — Tomaszewski at South Bend Washington, Buczkowski at South Bend Adams and Dermody at Warsaw.
Teammates included LaPorte High School’s Scott Upp and Greg Perschke. Upp went on to be head coach at LaPorte, following legend Ken Schreiber and Perschke the head coach at Trine University in Angola, Ind.
One of Snyder’s best friends in coaching is Washington Township’s Randy Roberts. They share similar styles.
“I had a good upbringing,” says Snyder, 52. “I’m very appreciative of all the people that came into my life.”
While he came back to just in time to have the 2020 season taken away because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are plenty of positives surrounding LaCrosse baseball.
Nearly $60,000 — most of it donated — has been poured into the improvement of Tiger Field, which is located less than a mile northeast of the school building.
“It’s going to surprise a lot of people,” says Snyder of an ongoing project at the Dewey Township-owned facility that has added a new net back stop with a four-foot brick wall inside and stone outside plus updated dugouts, mound and plate areas and an infield sprinkler system with more to come.
Snyder is approaching 19 years with North Star Stone in Valparaiso, Ind. The company manufactures and installs stone products.
Snyder expects as many as 28 players (including 13 freshmen) this spring, meaning the Tigers will be able to field a junior varsity team for likely the first time ever.
Helping Snyder coach are Brian “Chico” Lipscomb, J.T. Snyder and Dan Snyder. Lipscomb was a standout at LaPorte who played in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. J.T., Eric’s son, and Dan, Eric’s nephew, played at South Central. Dan Snyder, who pitched and was the athlete of the year at Purdue University Northwest, is LaCrosse’s pitching coach.
Other former college or pro players have come in to help teach the Tigers.
Feeding the high school program is the Southwest County Conference — a youth league for ages 5 to 12 with teams feeding schools at LaCrosse, Wanatah, Clinton, Hanna and Union Mills. LaCrosse uses the softball field near Tiger Field.
“I’m a big part of that,” says Snyder. “I want to teach them everything I need them to know (at the high school level).
“We teach them how to bunt, lead off and steal. We treat the youngest kids just like they were freshmen.”
In coaching LaCrosse fifth and sixth grade boys basketball players this winter, Snyder took over a team with a 1.7 grade-point average. By season’s end it was 3.1.
“That’s why I’m involved at the lower levels,” says Snyder.
LaCrosse conducted fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period workouts and is just getting started with winter conditioning/practice given that so many baseball players also play basketball.
Eric and Sara Snyder have five children (two girls followed by three sons) — Alex (26), Danielle (25), J.T. (23), R.J. (21) and Eli (10). The four oldest were all South Central athletes — Alex in volleyball, basketball and softball, Danielle in softball, J.T. in baseball and basketball and R.J. in baseball and basketball. R.J. Snyder is an outfielder at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind.
Greenlee (South Putnam High School, Indiana State University and Ball State University graduate) won 503 games in a 28-year career with 25 years at Kankakee Valley High School in Wheatland, Ind.
His KV teams won three sectionals, two regionals and seven conference championships. He was the 2013 IHSBCA North All-Star head coach and has served on numerous IHSBCA committees and served 16 years as athletic director at four different schools.
Grove (Bluffton High School and Ball State University graduate) coached Churubusco (Ind.) High School to 513 wins with nine sectionals, four regionals and one semistate (1995).
His teams also won nine Northeast Corner Conference championships (four tournament titles) and two Allen County Athletic Conference crowns.
Forty of Grove’s players played college baseball and one was selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He coached 25 all-staters, six IHSBCA North All-Stars and was honored as a district coach of the year several times.
Grove has been on many IHSBCA committees and currently helps out at the State Clinic registration table. He has been a mentor to many coaches and is always a willing participant/organizer for clinics and youth baseball events.
Lehrman (Heritage High School and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne graduate) pitched four seasons at IPFW.
He has coached high school baseball for 42 years — nine at Woodlan and 33 at Heritage in Monroeville, Ind. His teams have won 602 games and 12 Allen County Athletic Conference championships.
He is an eight-time ACAC Coach of the Year and has been an IHSBCA District Coach of the Year and twice been on the IHSBCA North/South All-Stars coaching staff.
Lehrman’s teams have won eight sectionals, three regionals, one semistate and made three Final Four appearances. His 2007 squad was state runners-up. He has also coached football for 39 years with six as head coach (40-26).
Dean, a high school mathematics teacher, and wife Janice Lehrman have three children — Camryn, Derek and Ryne — plus three grandchildren.
McIntrye (Jeffersonville High School and Indiana University Southeast graduate) played at Jeffersonville for IHSBCA Hall of Famer Don Poole.
Mac’s coaching career began as an assistant to Clarksville (Ind.) High School to IHSBCA Hall of Famer Wayne Stock.
In 25 years as New Albany (Ind.) High School coach, McIntyre has a record of 533-218 with five Hoosier Hills Conference titles, 10 sectional championships and one regional tile with three Final Eight appearances.
He is a four-time District Coach of the Year and five-time conference coach of the year.
McIntyre was IHSBCA President in 2014, has served on numerous committees and has been an IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series three times. He has coached 13 South All-Stars and sent more than 40 players to college baseball. Three of his players have been selected in the MLB Draft and two have played in the majors.
Chris, a high school mathematic teacher at New Albany, and wife Shannon McIntyre have two sons — Tyler and Kevin.
Rogers (Merrillville High School and Huntington College graduate) spent 32 seasons as head coach at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers High School and has been in charge at Leo for two seasons.
His teams have won 513 games with Luers taking four sectionals, one regional and one semistate. The 2008 state won a state championship.
Rogers was a State Coach of the Year in 2008 and a two-time IHSBCA District Coach of the Year. He has been on numerous IHSBCA committees and is very active in the Fort Wayne baseball community. He has served as a volunteer assistant at Indiana Tech for many seasons and worked with the Wildcat League for 33 years and serves on the board of the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association and is an NEIBA Hall of Famer.
Selvey (Redkey High School, University of Evansville and Ball State University graduate) has spent his entire coaching career at Jay County High School in Portland, Ind. — five as an assistant and 31 as head coach — and has a career record of 502-333.
His teams have won seven sectionals and three regionals plus five Olympic Conference and one Allen County Athletic Conference title. He was conference coach of the year three times.
Very active in the IHSBCA, Selvey has served as president, a regional representative and on several committees. He has been an assistant coach in the IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series two times. He has also been a regional coach of the year and coached 14 All-Stars and numerous players who went on to play in college with three drafted by MLB and two others in independent or overseas baseball.
Selvey has been active in community and junior high baseball and has been active nine years with the Summit City Sluggers travel organization.
Lea, a high school science teacher, and wife Denise Selvey have three three children — Josh, Kyle and Kristen.
Strayer (Prairie Heights High School, Manchester College and Indiana University Northwest graduate) coached at Boone Grove High School in Valparaiso, Ind., and is going into his 19th season at Crown Point (Ind.) High School. His overall coaching record is 619-227 with 15 conference titles, 14 sectional crowns and nine regional championships.
His Crown Point teams have won 396 games and numerous sectional and regional titles to go along with eight Dunelond Athletic Conference crowns. He was named District Coach of the Year three times and served as IHSBCA President and was a 2005 IHSBCA North/South All-Series coach. He has coached 12 Indiana All-Stars and 63 players have gone on to play college baseball (23 in NCAA Division I).
Strayer teaches high school mathematics and resides in Crown Point with wife Jennifer and daughter Charlotte.
Terry (Clinton High School and Indiana State University graduate) played football, basketball and baseball at Clinton and began his coaching journey in 1980 with one season at Turkey Run High School in Marshall, Ind., and has spent the past 38 years as head coach at South Vermillion High School. His career mark is 604-357.
His teams have won nine Wabash River Conference titles, eight sectionals and one regional while finishing in the Final Eight three times and the Final Four once.
Terry has led the Wildcats to 20-plus wins 10 times and coached six IHSBCA All-Stars with numerous all-state players. He has been named an IHSBCA district coach of the year twice and served as IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series coach and participated on many IHSBCA committees.
He has coached at the Little League, Pony League, Babe Ruth and American Legion levels and was the head girls basketball coach at South Vermillion for 34 years with two conference titles, five sectionals and 295 wins.
Currently in his 42nd year in education, Terry was at Turkey Run for two years before coming to South Vermillion. Besides head baseball coach, he is currently the school’s athletic director.
Tim and wife Kim, a high school science teacher, have four sons — T.J. (22), Canton (20, Cooper (18) and Easton (14). Tim’s baseball memories are centered around his boys.
Johnson (Gary Roosevelt High School and Indiana State University graduate) played for IHSBCA Hall of Famer Bob Warn at ISU. Johnson was co-captain for the Sycamores’ first Missouri Valley Conference championship team and first NCAA tournament participant. He had a career .422 average and led the nation in regular-season hitting (.502). He was selected to the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Johnson was selected in the sixth round of the 1979 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos. He was MVP of the Florida State League and later played on championship teams in Denver (1981) and Indianapolis (1986).
He made his MLB debut in 1981 and went on to become the Expos’ all-time leader in pinch hits (86). In 428 big league games, he hit .255 with five homers and 59 RBIs. After retirement as a player, he was third base coach for the Chicago White Sox for five seasons.
Reed (Terre Haute South Vigo High School who played at the University of Kentucky) played for Kyle Kraemer at South Vigo and was the Indiana Player of the Year and MVP of the IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series in 2011.
The IHSBCA record book lists Reed sixth in single-season homers (18 in 2011) and sixth in career homers (41 from 2008-11).
At UK, Reed’s awards were many, including Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Golden Spikes (nation’s top amateur player), Dick Howser Trophy, ABCA and Baseball America College Player of the Year, John Olerud Trophy, several first-team All-America teams, Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year. In 2012, he was on several Freshman All-America teams.
Reed was chosen in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros and was a minor league all-star in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He won the Joe Bauman Award twice for leading Minor League Baseball in homers. He was the California League MVP and Rookie of the Year with Lancaster in 2015.
He smacked 136 homers in 589 minor league games. He played in 62 MLB contests with the Astros and Chicago White Sox and finished with four homers and 12 RBIs.
He retired from baseball in March 2020 and resides in Riley, Ind., with wife Shelby and their two dogs. He plans to return to college in January 2021 to finish his bachelor’s degree.
Carroll (Castle High School graduate who played at the University of Evansville) played at Castle in Newburgh, Ind., for Dave Sensenbrenner and Evansville for Jim Brownlee. He was an All-American in his senior year of 1996. He name appears 27 times in the Purple Aces baseball record book.
He was drafted in the 14th round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos. In his 12-year big league career with the Expos/Washington Nationals, Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, he produced a 16.6 WAR, 1,000 hits, 13 homers, a .272 average, 560 runs, 265 RBIs, 74 stolen bases, a .349 on-base percentage and .687 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
Carroll scored the last run in Expos history. He led National League second basemen in fielding percentage in 2006. In 2007, his sacrifice fly plated Matt Holliday to win the NL Wild Card Game.
He currently works in the front office for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jamey and Kim Carroll have 11-year-old twins — Cole and Mackenzie.
Miller (who died in 2017) took over the Portland (Ind.) Rockets in 1972 and won more than 900 games in more than 30 years as manager.
In 1992, Miller became American Amateur Baseball Congress state secretary and moved the Indiana tournament to Portland. He managed the Rockets to state titles in 1985, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2006.
An ambassador for baseball, Miller sent more than 30 former players into the high school or college coaching ranks.
In 2000, the Rockets named their home facility Ray Miller Field. In 2002, Miller was the first inductee into the Indiana Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.
Randy Miller, Ray’s son, is the current Portland Rockets manager.
Robinson (Indianapolis Wood High School and Indiana University Kokomo graduate) played one year of high school baseball.
He began umpiring high school games in 1980 and worked for 35 years with 33 sectionals, 25 regionals, 14 semistates and six State Finals. He umpired six IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series and was voted IHSBCA Umpire of the Year five times.
In 1994, Robinson was elected to the National Federation Distinguished Official of the Year. He also coached Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball for 10 years.
He has been a football official at the high school and college level and worked six years in NCAA Division II and seven in the Mid-American Conference. He has been a replay official for the MAC and Big Ten Conference. He was a replay official for the 2014 National Championship game at the Rose Bowl between Florida State and Auburn.
James and late wife Nada has one daughter and one grandson — Chiquita and Kameron.
Taylor (Southmont High School and Wabash College graduate) was a Little Giants captain and was in college when he began his coaching career. He led teams at the Little League, Babe Ruth, AAU and American Legion levels.
During an AAU coaching stint in Florida, Taylor realized the level of travel baseball and how Indiana was underrepresented in this arena. He formed the Indiana Bulls travel organization with the vision of providing Indiana high school player the opportunity to pursue their college and MLB dreams.
In 1992, the Bulls sponsored two teams and Taylor coached future MLB players Scott Rolen and Todd Dunwoody. Taylor coached the Bulls for four more seasons, served as president for 10, an officer for 20 and has been a director since 1992.
His vision was realized. More than 170 Bulls players have been drafted by MLB (12 in the first round) and over 300 players have received NCAA Division I scholarships. The Bulls have won 22 national titles, a professional staff works 12 months a year and currently field 25 teams from ages 8 to 17. Several of these teams are coached by former professionals who were Bulls players.
Taylor resides in Brownsburg, Ind., and is a leading insurance defense trial attorney. He has served 20 years as a certified Major League Baseball Players Association agent and represented more than 100 pro players and continues to represent former players in various legal matters.
Deadline for returning the IHSBCA Hall of Fame ballot, which appears in the October newsletter, is Oct. 31.
The IHSBCA State Clinic is scheduled for Jan. 15-17 at Sheraton at Keystone at the Crossing. The Hall of Fame and awards banquet will be held at a later time because of COVID-19 restrictions at the hotel.
He backstopped Babe Ruth League teams in Terre Haute, Ind., and at South Vermillion High School in Clinton, the second of four Terry brothers to playing for father Tim Terry. There’s T.J. (24), Canton (21), Cooper (19) and Easton (15).
Canton’s high school days also saw him catch two travel ball summers each for the Matt Merica-coached Indiana Thunder and Tony Smodilla-coached Indiana Havoc.
At present, Terry is a lefty-batting catcher/designated hitter at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. The 2020 season was his third for head coach Jake Martin’s Little Giants.
“The catcher controls the game almost more than the pitcher does,” says Terry. “It comes down to good quality pitch calling. My whole career I’ve always called all the pitches. I take take a lot of pride in it. I take every pitch into consideration and how the batter did the previous at-bat and what pitches are working for (the pitcher).”
Terry has an aptitude for remembering what batters did within a game.
“I see how he handled the last pitch or even how his confidence looks at the plate,” says Terry. “Where they have their hands to load the swing (also comes into play).
“We definitely don’t give them their cream-of-the-crop pitch, but try to keep them off-balance.”
Sometimes, Terry puts on an auto-shake for the pitcher. He will appear to shake off the sign when he really intends to throw — for instance — a first-pitch fastball.
“Having him do that can throw off the batter,” says Terry.
Like he has for years, Canton also had a brother for a teammate. The 2019-20 school year was Cooper Terry’s freshmen year at Wabash.
“I helped him raise expectations and know what level of play he needs to get to,” says Canton of Cooper. “I also showed him the do’s and don’ts of college.
“Wabash is a pretty academically-rigorous school. You have to put in hard work.”
Canton’s leadership was not contained to his brother.
“I try to lead by example and not try to cut anything short,” says Terry, who notes that the Little Giants were still getting into the weight room and working out in the winter when coaches were not allowed to be a part of it. “Putting in the hard work it takes to make a championship level team.”
The COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2020 season for Wabash (6-2) in March and Terry started in three games and finished with a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000 with 11 putouts and two assists.
During the shutdown, he stayed ready for his next baseball opportunity and is now with the Nighthawks in the 12-team College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. He drives two hours from Clinton twice a week to play for the team that has Anderson University assistant John Becker as head coach.
“It’s been an awesome opportunity to get a lot of playing time and a lot of at-bats,” says Terry. “I’m with a great group of guys.
“I don’t think we’ve had a single bad game with chemistry.”
Terry played in 14 games with three starts as a Wabash freshmen in 2018. He hit .313 (5-of-16) and drove in five runs while reaching base at a .476 clip. In 2019, he got into 36 games with 29 starts and hit .318 (28-of-88) with one home run, 19 RBIs and a .462 on-base percentage.
All the while he’s enjoyed playing for Martin.
“He’s been a really good coach,” says Terry. “He’s definitely a coach that cares for his players — in and outside of baseball.”
This summer has not all been about the diamond for Terry. There is also an eight-week internship with a Neuroscience professor, doing online research.
“We’re studying impulsivity for quitting smoking and other addictive behaviors,” says Terry, a Psychology major and Biology minor.
Terry started on a path to be a double major in Physics and Math before taking and enjoying a neuroscience class.
When the Wabash campus was closed, Terry came home and finished his spring courses online.
It was not easy having to focus that long with five other people in the house, including three rambunctious brothers.
“There are a lot more benefits to in-person (learning),” says Terry. “Wabash has one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios in the country. Overall, the learning experience is a lot more successful and functional in-person.”
On-campus classes at Wabash is scheduled to resume Aug. 12.
Terry is a 2017 graduate of South Vermillion. He earned 10 varsity letters — four in baseball and two each in cross country, soccer and basketball.
“I’ve been asked a lot about playing for my dad,” says Terry. “It wasn’t weird to me. I was always at high school baseball practices. It’s just the norm. There were no problems or issues.”
But expectations are higher.
“Being a coach’s son, you expected to give the hardest effort and have the most perfection,” says Terry. “That helped me.”
In 2017, senior class president and Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader Terry hit .612 and was named district player of the year, first-team all-state and to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series. He was also team MVP and team captain for the second straight year. In 2016, he was on the all-Western Indiana Conference team and led the WIC in hitting (.490). He was South Vermillion’s rookie of the year in 2015.
Canton played soccer for Juan Montanez and basketball for Phil Leonard as a freshman and sophomore and ran cross country for Mike Costello as a junior and Kent Musall as a senior.
“I had several concussions in sports so I focused mainly on baseball,” says Terry. “As a catcher I always have a helmet on — on defense or batting.”
Along the way, he is enjoying meeting coaches, athletic directors and fans and hearing their stories.
Hill’s hobby has him traveling around the state on his free time to gather caps and stories.
“I get to see every side of the spectrum,” says Hill, who has been to schools with the best of everything and enough players to fill three full squads to those getting by with little and having around a dozen in the program.
Facebook and Twitter pages — Hardy The Hat Guy — are dedicated to the project. Hardy is his middle name and a family moniker that goes back several generations.
“I’m a guy who loves baseball and has a chronic hat habit,” says Hill.
He is not looking for a hand-out. Hill appreciates donations, but he is willing to pay for every cap.
The first hat came courtesy of Dave Clark, a disabled Vietnam War veteran from Rochester.
When Hill offered to pay for the cap, Clark’s reply was “Do two good deeds for somebody and we’re square.”
Coaches in northwest Indiana, including Jim Tucker at Kouts and Brian Jennings at Griffith, are helping by getting hats from their opponents.
“Coaches in the Region reaching out to me is really cool,” says Hill.
With help in gathering the head covers, Hill says he might be able to get all the caps and display them at the 2019 IHSAA State Finals June 17-18 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
At last count, he had 72 IHSAA caps. He hopes that number will swell this week with a trip to gather hats in the Region.
Hill grew up in Clinton, Ind., and played baseball for head coach Tim Terry at South Vermillion High School, graduating in 1992. He now calls Brownsburg, Ind., home.
His day job takes him to Monument Circle in Indianapolis as a computer systems administrator.
The hat that started it all was from his youth league days playing for a team called Push.
That team also sported red jackets and was a salute to Old Push, a “local nine” from the earlier part of the 20th Century.
Even as a kid, Hill enjoyed that tie to history.
“I always joke I was born in the wrong generation,” says Hill.
Ever the optimist, Hill carries a little yellow calling card.
On one side it says “I’m not selling anything, but I’ll buy your hat” with his contact information.
On the flag side is a message he shared while coaching youngsters:
THERE IS ALWAYS THE NEXT PITCH
That Bible passage says: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
“Everything is forward,” says Hill. “The only thing that matters is what is next.”
So what’s next?
After Hill finishes his current IHSAA collection — whenever that happens — he is considering going after hats of former Indiana high schools.
Anybody seen a cap for the Montezuma Aztecs or Rosedale Hots Hots? Here’s a hint: They both were consolidated into Riverton Parke. Montezuma’s school colors are purple and gray and Rosedale black and gold.
Dan Hill aka “Hardy The Hat Guy” is on a quest to collect every IHSAA baseball school’s cap. That’s more than 400. He is well on his way. (Hardy The Hat Guy Photos)
Machmer’s manager in California was Jim Fregosi. His only career home run came in his first big league at-bat — a lead-off shot against Minnesota Twins left-hander Geoff Zahn on June 21, 1978 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. That was one week after Sparky Anderson took over as Detroit manager.
Over 11 minor league seasons and stints with the Angels, Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins organizations, Machmer batted .277 with 1,078 hits in 1,126 games played. He spent short stints with the Jim Leyland-managed Evansville Triplets in 1979 and 1980.
Leyland went on to manage in the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and then the Tigers.
Cal Ermer, who won more than 1,900 games in the minors, was Machemer’s manager in Toledo.
Machemer would win nearly 1,700 contests as the main man in the dugout from 1985 to 2013 and also was employed five years as a coordinator.
His managing career began in the Midwest League with the 1985 Beloit Brewers. He went on to manage clubs in Stockton, El Paso and Denver for the Brewers, Delmarva, Rochester, Frederick and Bowie for the Baltimore Orioles, Clinton and Harrisburg for the Montreal Expos and Norwich, Connecticut, Arizona, Augusta and Richmond for the San Francisco Giants.
He took the 1986 Stockton Ports to the California League title, skippered Mexicali to 1989 Mexican Pacific League title and the Caribbean World Series, earned Texas League Manager of the Year with the 1996 El Paso Diablos and guided the 2008 Arizona Giants to the rookie-level Arizona League championship.
“I loved managing the game and the strategy and competition that I had with other managers,” says Machemer. “I thought I did it well.
“Managing is all about development and winning. Nowadays, the focus is not on winning. It’s about player development.”
Bruce Manno, minor league director when Machemer was with that organization, was liked to win.
“He said, ‘Mac, winning and player development go hand-in-hand because when you win those players get developed,’” says Machemer. “I always believed in that.
“You always had more fun when you won and you developed a winning attitude and a good solid player at the next level to eventual help you win in the major leagues.
“If you don’t win, what’s the game all about?”
The baseball lifer is now in his fifth year as a scout for the Orioles — the first on the amateur side tracking the best high school and college players for the MLB Draft and the past two on the pro side for trades and acquisitions.
In 2017, he traveled from coast to coast and in Latin America and racked up 120 nights at the Marriott while seeing players from Low Class-A to the majors.
“It’s not all bad,” says Machemer. “I get a lot of frequent flyer miles.”
Machemer, who turns 67 in May, spent a month in Arizona for spring training intently watching players — using those eyes.
“(The Orioles) do a lot of sabermetrics and analysis through computers,” says Machemer. “I don’t. I go with my eyes and my heart and my experience.
“(Executive vice president) Dan Duquette believes in that and we’re still doing it a lot that way and I like it.”
Machemer notes that MLB organizations let 60 scouts go at the end of 2017 that do what he does.
“They’re handing the ball off to a lot of people who sit in the office and go over the numbers and watch a lot of it on television,” says Machemer, who worked with Duquette with the Expos and again with the Brewers. “Dan hasn’t done that yet and I hope he doesn’t.”
When Machemer joined the Orioles scouting staff in 2014 and began taking marching orders from scouting director Gary Rajsich, he was made a national cross checker. He spent three years assessing mostly players who wound up being drafted in the first two rounds.
His role changed last year. He recently returned from spring training where he followed key players on five MLB teams, but was also responsible for everyone he saw on the field. Players might have been out of options or would help the O’s with their Triple-A depth.
Machemer, who got his first taste of scouting in 2007 when the Giants sent him on the road for three months with renowned advance scout Ted Uhlaender, was looking for things like athleticism, arm strength and bat speed and submitting reports.
Since teams do their pre-game work on back fields during the spring, Machemer had to rely on just what he saw in games.
“You have to be very, very astute to be able to evaluate a guy on a couple different plays or couple at-bats,” says Machemer. “It’s not an easy job. It’s hard.”
Machemer would watch teams for five or six games in a row and then move on to the next team.
“I’m hoping to see something in that five or six games that excites me a little bit,” says Machemer. “Maybe I don’t see that this guy’s skills play to the level he should?”
The player in question might be heavy or light on his feet, have a weak or strong arm, slow or quick bat.
“All I can tell them is what I see,” says Machemer. “I pull the trigger and that’s what we all do as scouts. You’ve got to pull the trigger.”
Scouts have to have the ability to project what they think a player is going to be and how they fit into the organization’s plans.
“Every player in this game as they come up is going to have a role,” says Machemer. “As a scout, I put a present role on them and a future role.
“That’s what this game is all about. Can he help us in the big leagues?”
“When you see guys like a Tatis, you know he’s going to be something in the major leagues,” says Machemer. “It’s for you as a scout to determine what he’s going to be
Machemer was also projecting as a minor league manager.
“Those skilled players I knew were eventually going to start in the big leagues,” says of players like Sheffield, Roberts, Werth and Surhoff. “That was going to be their role.
“Not everyone coming up is going to be an everyday player in the major leagues. I had to zero in on what they needed to get better at and what their role was going to be.”
The player’s idea of their role and the team’s is not always the same.
Such was the case with Machemer as a player. He didn’t always see eye to eye with his managers, including Leyland, about his playing time and his role.
“As a I graduated into managing and player development, I understood it a little more,” says Machemer. “When I got into scouting, I really understood it.”
Machemer learned much for many people over the years. His baseball and football coach at Benton Harbor High was Al Ratcliff.
“He taught me so much about the game and about life,” says Machemer. “That man taught me to the believe in myself and to overcome adversity when the trenches got real deep.”
Ratcliff died March 7 at 93.
Machemer also looks back fondly on his time with his minor league majors Ermer, Jimy Williams, Deron Johnson, Doc Edwards and Joe Morgan. Williams (Toronto Blue Jays, Red Sox, Astros), Edwards (Cleveland Indians) and Morgan (Red Sox) all managed the majors. Johnson was an MLB hitting coach.
“Those guys gave me a piece of them,” says Machemer. “I learned a lot from each and every one of those guys. From them, I kind of developed my own style.
“I’ll never forget those guys. I pay tribute to them for my career. They molded me into who I am.”
While he was managing in the Midwest League, he was approached by South Bend coach Jim Reinebold and the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame took him back to the days that he led his South Bend Clay Colonials against Benton Harbor.
“‘Dave, you played the game as hard as any player I ever saw,’” says Machemer in repeating Reinebold’s comments. “That meant a lot to me. That guy’s a legend and those kind of people are hard to impress. They are cut from a different cloth.”
Does Machemer have his eyes on another managing job?
The only jobs that would pique his interest are managing at the Triple-A or the majors and coaching the bigs.
“I like what I’m doing right now,” says Machemer. “I have a good feel for scouting.”
Dave Machemer’s long baseball career as a player, manager, coordinator and scout includes two brief stops with the old Evansville Triplets in the Detroit Tigers organization. The Benton Harbor, Mich., resident is now a pro scout for the Baltimore Orioles.