Josh Clinkenbeard knows the life lessons that can be learned through athetics. He absorbed them as a baseball and football player at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Snider High School and continues to make it a focus as he has moved up from Panthers assistant to baseball head coach at his alma mater in 2022. “One of the biggest messages we are trying to share with our guys is about being a good community member,” says Snider Class of 1999’s Clinkenbeard, a former outfielder, first baseman and pitcher for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Andy Owen (Marc Skelton and Bruce Meyer were assistants; Skelton became head coach after Owen and both Skelton and Meyer retired from baseball coaching after 2021) and tight end for Indiana Football Hall of Famer Russ Isaacs. “As individuals, we will always be a part of some collective group. “We remind ourselves to be good teammates. We also try to relate our sport to real life like dealing with adversity and working with others, for example.” Clinkenbeard recalls lessons learned from Owen and company. “One of the biggest things I remember that still rings true with me is how to handle physical mistakes versus mental mistakes as a coach,” says Clinkenbeard. “Dealing with the mental side of sports can be taught and modeled in practice.” Snider (enrollment around 1,900) is a member of the Summit Athletic Conference (with Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran, Fort Wayne North Side, Fort Wayne Northrop, Fort Wayne South Side, Fort Wayne Wayne and Homestead). SAC teams play home-and-series in the same week against conference opponents. The Panthers are in an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Carroll, DeKalb (host), East Noble and Northrop. Snider has won 11 sectional titles — the last in 2017. Clinkenbeard was part of that coaching staff. With 31 players in 2022 for varsity and junior varsity squads, Clinkenbeard is assisted by Payton Bieker, Brandon Phelps, Chase Phelps, Tim McCrady and Jimmy Cunningham. All but Cunningham are Snider graduates. Bieker (Class of 2008) played at Purdue University, Brandon Phelps (Class of 2013) and Chase Phelps (Class of 2016) at what is now Purdue Fort Wayne. McCrady (Class of 1983) is the JV head coach. Cunningham is a first-year coach. The Panthers play on Hawley Field (a diamond four miles east of Snider named for former athletic director Michael Hawley who helped plan and build the complex). The facility has been upgraded with irrigation and improved drainage. “The long-term goal is to have lock rooms on-site with indoor batting cages,” says Clinkenbeard. Snider baseball once played at Carrington Field. When the original was torn down to make room for Memorial Stadium (home of the Fort Wayne Wizards), a new Carrington Field was establish across Coliseum Boulevard. When Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (now PFW) purchsed the land, Snider went looking for a new home field. “The unique part is that we are not on-site which creates many challenges, but because we are nestled among some housing additions it gives us a feeling of being part of a community.” A 2003 graduate of Butler University with a degree in Biology with a teaching certificate, Clinkenbeard is in his 18th year as a middle school teacher. Before a rotator cuff injury ended his career, the first baseman was a walk-on at Butler for head coach Steve Farley. “Great coach who really showed me the details of the game,” says Clinkenbeard of Farley. “There are many drills we did in college that we incorporate in our team today.” Jakob Byler (University of Saint Francis) and Trevor Newman (Franklin College) are college commits. Mac Hippenhammer (Class of 2017) went to Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) to play baseball and football. Josh and wife Krisanne Clinkenbeard have three children — Olivia, Jase and Hayes.
Kelcey Mucker grew up in the southern part of Indiana and excelled at multiple sports. Born in Washington, Ind., and moving to Lawrenceburg, Ind., around 18 months, Mucker would go on to shine at Lawrenceburg High School. The 1993 graduate played in the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Boys Basketball Series as well as the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series and the Indiana Football Coaches Association North/South All-Star Game. At the time, he was told he was the first to ever pull off that three-sport feat. One of his teammates in the Indiana-Kentucky and IHSBCA North-South games was Jasper’s Scott Rolen. Both were named to the 2018 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team. Mucker, who swang the bat from the left side and threw the baseball and the football with his right arm, was headed to Indiana University on a football scholarship with plans to also represent the Hoosiers in basketball and baseball when his path turned to professional baseball. Selected in the first round of the 1993 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins, all-state outfielder Mucker did not sign right away and had time for those summertime all-star appearances. One day before he was to begin classes at IU — Aug. 9, 1993 — the 6-foot-4 athlete signed with the Twins. “The offer was good and I weighed my options,” says Mucker, the Lawrenceburg High School Athletics Hall of Famer. “I feel like I could’ve played baseball a lot longer than the other sports.” Basketball was his favorite and he excelled at football. He did not put the time into baseball he did the other two. “It was something I could do,” says Mucker, who went on to play 597 pro games, including 109 with the 1995 Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wizards. Mucker played in the Twins system 1993-99 — seeing time at Double-A the last two years. He hooked on with the Cleveland Indians organization as a minor league free agent in 2000 and was released in April. The Oakland Athletics hired him as a scout and assigned him to a Deep South territory. He first moved to Metairie, La., outside New Orleans. He was in Baton Rouge, Fla., for 14 years and three years ago moved 20 miles east to Denham Springs, La., where he lives with wife Lisa. Mucker, who is beginning his 22nd year with the Athletics, is responsible for knowing the baseball talent in Louisiana, Mississippi and southeast Texas (Houston area). At this time of the year, Mucker is spending much of his time getting ready for the spring season. He meets with potential signees through in-home visits or (since the COVID-19 pandemic) sometimes over Zoom calls. “Getting into homes was pretty big for us as area scouts — that face-to-face contact,” says Mucker. “That’s still challenging going into 2022. “I like talking to parents and kids at the ballpark. It’s not so impersonal.” Mucker’s job is tied to being organized. “It’s knowing my area and what’s going on on a daily basis — not only for me but my supervisors and everybody above me so they can get that second look,” says Mucker. “We all can evaluate a player. What ballparks are we going to get in?” Emails let him know when there are changes in games and he’s always on top of the forecast. “I feel like I’m a weatherman,” says Mucker. “Rain is not good for a baseball game.” But — generally speaking — the weather is good and baseball can be played 12 months a year in Mucker’s area. In the winter months, that is often a workout or showcase. “Kids are always working out — sometimes a little bit too much,” says Mucker. “From the draft (now in July during the MLB All-Star break) until start of the season, we’re getting ready for 2022. “I try to see everybody we can prior to next spring so we have an idea.” Unlike Indiana when the snow might still be flying in April, high school baseball in Mucker’s territory tends to start the third week of February. Mucker also keeps tabs on players’ social media accounts. “They might Tweet something they shouldn’t and be a bigger risk,” says Mucker. “For us as scouts that’s part of the equation.” Not all MLB organizations bring their scouts together during the draft. With the exception of 2020 with travel restrictions, Mucker and his colleagues go to Oakland during that time. Mucker is vice president of the Southeastern Scouts Association — a group made up of scouts living in the Deep South and representing all 30 MLB teams. “We meet once a year and talk about initiaves and giving back to the game within our region,” says Mucker, who has also been part of the Buck O’Neil Professional Baseball Scouts & Coaches Association. Mucker notes that there is some uncertainty about what will transpire in baseball until the current lockout is resolved. Scouting has always been competitive, but now that the draft has been cut down to 20 rounds (it was 40 in 2019 and five in 2020) it is even more important to know as much information as possible about players and also what other organizations think about him. How much do the Reds like that player? Can we wait until the third round or take them in the second? “It’s another way — on a bigger scale — to be organized within your territory,” says Mucker. Though he’s lived away from Indiana more than two decades, Kelcey Adair Mucker still has family ties there. His father — retired Indiana State Police trooper of 30 years — Hubert Mucker Jr., is just outside Lawrenceburg. Brother Stacy Mucker and son Kelcey Aaron Mucker live in Lawrenceburg with many other family members in Washington or Indianapolis.
It’s a team-first concept that Connor Wilkins is emphasizing as the new head baseball coach at Ivy Tech Northeast in Fort Wayne, Ind. In June, Wilkins took over the Titans program started by Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Lance Hershberger. “Be a selfless player and put your team ahead yourself,” says Wilkins, who turns 29 in October. “It’s a team approach. It’s never individual goals. Are you willing to do what is necessary for your team to succeed even if you fail?” Wilkins has this in mind when looking for players to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II program. “We are very strict about how we recruit,” says Wilkins. “We see how they interact with their parents and their teammates. We coach the entire person. The results on the ball field take care of themselves.” With games and practices at Shoaff Park, Ivy Tech is currently engaged in fall ball. They have had six scrimmages and could wind up having as many as 28 — most of them on the road at such four-year schools as the University of Northwestern Ohio, Indiana Tech, Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University. The Titans went 1-0-1 in the recent Puma JUCO Classic — a Prep Baseball Report showcase at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. There are nearly 40 players honing fundamentals and getting down the details of Ivy Tech’s offensive and defensive systems. “We start working on things now so that come spring time their mechanics and bodies are locked in,” says Wilkins, who is working toward a Masters in Exercise Science and Wellness with a concentration in Fitness and Performance through Liberty University. Wilkins’ assistant coaches are Scott Bickel, Drew Buffenbarger, Javier DeJesus and Mark Flueckiger. Buffenbarger was Ivy Tech’s first baseball captain. DeJesus, who played for the Fort Wayne Wizards, is the Titans pitching coach. Flueckiger, who played at Huntington College (now Huntington University), has high school and college coaching experience. A 2011 graduate of Concordia Lutheran High School, catcher Wilkins played for Steve Kleinschmidt as Cadets freshman and his last three seasons for Hershberger. Wilkins went to Rick Smith-coached NJCAA member Jackson (Mich.) College then transferred to Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, where an L5 (fifth Lumbar Vertabra) injury on top of a preexisting back issue ended his playing days in the fall of 2013. His original career path was to follow grandfather Harry Wallace’s footsteps and become a chiropractor before he got the teaching and coaching bug. Wallace (who died in 2006) practiced for 60 years around Ligonier and Fort Wayne. Wilkins transferred from Indiana Tech to Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne and changed his major to Secondary Education through Indiana University. In the spring of 2014, he was on the baseball staff of Fort Wayne Northrop High School head coach Matt Brumbaugh. Before becoming head coach and an advisor at Ivy Tech, Wilkinson spent three years at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, where he taught History, Health Sciences and Strength & Conditioning. Connor is the youngest of Dan and Beth Wilkins’ four children after Danielle Molter (36), Matthew Wilkins (34) and Brianna Kompara (32). Dan Wilkins is a retired IT specialist at GTE (now Verizon) and Beth Wilkins is in customer service at Parkview Hospital Randallia. Connor and wife Alana will celebrate three years of marriage in October. Alana Wilkins is a Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger High School graduate and an insurance underwriter. The couple have a daughter — Rey (2).
At 62 and in a year where he lost his wife, Tyner has a different perspective.
“I’m pretty intense as a competitor,” says Tyner. “As you age you don’t lose your intensity, it becomes a different kind of focus. I’m a little more cerebral. Yelling and screaming might have worked in the ‘90s. That doesn’t work now. You have to think about who you’re talking to.
“Hopefully I’ve calmed down. As you mature, you go from thinking it’s your team to how can I serve the kid? Or how can I share the information I’ve learned in my 40 years in the game?”
It’s a horizontal relationship. Tyner lets his assistants take their strengths and run with them.
“I’m not ego-driven anymore,” says Tyner. “We can all learn something from each other and coaches and kids benefit.”
Coaching friends — like Tony Vittorio — are quick to point out when Tyner might lose sight of what his job is.
“I’m a father first and a coach second,” says Tyner. “I don’t have just one son, I have 38 his year. I’m older than all my coaches, so I have more even more sons.”
Tyner was a standout in Decatur, Ill., playing for Ray DeMoulin (a bird dog scout for the Cincinnati Reds who allowed Tyner to try out at 15) at MacAthur High School and Lee Handley (who played in the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers systems) as American Legion manager.
The coin came up heads. Tyner went to Florida, made the Hurricanes roster and played on College World Series teams in 1978, 1979 and 1980, earning Baskin Robbins Player of the Year honors in that final season.
At Miami, Tyner was around coaching legends Ron Fraser and Skip Bertman. The young outfielder marveled at how the two baseball minds could anticipate what was going to happen in a game.
“How did they do that?” says Tyner. who refers to Bertman as a walking baseball encyclopedia. “I hovered closed to him. His sixth sense was incredible.”
Fraser called them the “Miami Greyhounds.”
“I felt I was on a track team,” says Tyner. “That’s how much we ran. We were in shape.”
Before the current 56-game spring limit in NCAA Division I, Miami typically played more than 100 games counting fall and spring.
In 1981, he enjoyed his best offensive and worst defensive season. The parent Orioles had decided to move Cal Ripken Jr. from third base to shortstop and decided to make Tyner into a third sacker. But the hot corner proved pretty hot for him and he made 20 errors in 51 games at third for the Hagerstown Suns.
Fans down both baselines let him know about it with a group of ladies on the third base side pointing out the places where the ball struck the “human dartboard.” Hagerstown spectators donned hard hats on the first base side in case of errant Tyner throws.
His roommate on the road was pitcher Julian Gonzalez. During a game in Salem, Va., after Tyner committed his third error, Hagerstown manager Grady Little came to the mound. Gonzalez told the skipper that his roomie had to go.
There was a bus accident the first weekend of season. The vehicle landed on its side.
“I felt something pop in my back way down low,” says Tyner. “24 hours later I couldn’t move. I missed over 30 games that summer.
At the plate, Tyner was locked in, hitting .301 with 31 home runs and 113 runs batted for the Suns in 1981.
After that, Tyner went back to the outfield where he vied with Drungo Hazewood for the unofficial title of best arm in the Orioles organization.
He would go on to belt 79 home runs in 365 games, playing for Hagerstown in 1981 and 1983 and the Charlotte O’s in 1982 and 1983. Multiple surgeries for bone chips in his right elbow put and end to Tyner’s pro career.
“I put my arm through a little bit of abuse,” says Tyner. “I was a quarterback and pitched in high school. Who knows what I did? It didn’t fail me for five more years. At Miami, I had a really good arm.”
“I’m not sure it gets much better than that,” says Tyner.
It was while coming to Indianapolis to finish his degree at Concordia University that Tyner connected with Butler head coach Steve Farley and began coaching for the Bulldogs. The first go-round, he was on Farley’s staff from 1993-97.
A relationship with the Bulls led to the press box and stands that are there to this day.
At the time, Dave Taylor was president of the organization and Craig Moore was head coach of the 17U team. Tyner started out with the 15U squad.
After coaching four years at Butler making $325 per semester, Tyner decided it was time to make money for his family — wife Laura, daughter Lindsay and son Matthew and got into communication sales and real estate.
Lindsay Dempsey, who is worked as a Registered Nurse, is now 36, married with two children and living Switzerland. Matthew Tyner, 33, is married and a finance and operations manager in Indianapolis.
When Matthew became a teenager, the Bulls approached his father about coaching a new 13U team with Jeremy Guler. The next year, Matt Tyner and Jeff Jamerson coached their sons Matthew and Jason on the 14U Bulls.
“We had top-shelf athletes way ahead of their time,” says Tyner of a team that featured future pros Lance Lynn (Brownsburg), Tommy Hunter (Cathedral) and J.B. Paxson (Center Grove). “It was fun to watch them play.”
“He imparted so much baseball knowledge on these kids,” says Tyner of Alexander, who was integral current baseball fields at Purdue University as well as Indianapolis Bishop Chatard High School, where Matthew Tyner played for Trojans head coach Mike Harmon and graduated in 2005. “What a treat that was.”
A few years later, Matt Tyner got the itch to coach baseball again. This time Farley could pay him a living wage and he went back to work at Butler in August 2007. Pendleton Heights graduate Jason Jamerson was a Bulldog senior in 2009.
“They made me feel like a king and there was one great speaker after the next for 2 1/2 days,” says Tyner. “As a coach you can’t be everything to everybody. But I’m going to use this nugget and I’m going to use that nugget.
“That’s money well-spent.”
In the summer of 2010, Tyner was offered the head coaching position at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. Knights athletic director Scott Wiegandt had been a Triple-A Louisville teammate of Tracy Woodson, a former big league third baseman, Fort Wayne Wizards manager who was then Valparaiso University head coach.
Farley, Woodson and University of Indianapolis head coach Gary Vaught gave Tyner their endorsement.
“We made some serious strides in that program,” says Tyner, who coached then-NCAA Division II Bellarmine to 26-26 and 27-23 marks in 2011 and 2012 with a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title and an appearance in the regional tournament championship game against the Grand Valley State University the second year.
Brandon Tormoehlen, now head coach at Brownstown (Ind.) Central High School, was on Tyner’s coaching staff.
Woodson became head coach at the University of Richmond (Va.) and called Tyner to be his recruiting coordinator and hitting coach. It was a post he held for four seasons.
“We had some pretty strong offensive teams,” says Tyner of his time with the Spiders.
Then Towson reached out and hit Tyner was an offer to be the Tigers head coach.
“The first two years at Towson was a challenge for all of us,” says Tyner, who saw his teams go 13-42 in 2018 and 14-39 in 2019. “We are process-driven and not results-driven. Took awhile for those entrenched in a different system to get it.
“Last year was their chance to shine.”
Indianapolis native Laura Anne Tyner passed away Feb. 10 in her hometown and Matt took a leave of absence at Towson. Matt and Laura were wed in 1983. She taught children with special needs and spent 20 years in real estate management.
With former Butler and Purdue University assistant Miller running the team, the 2020 Towson Tigers went 7-8 before the COVID-19 shutdown.
Tyner went down to see the team play in the opener of a weekend series in Miami. It turned out to be a pitchers’ dual. The Hurricanes held on for a 2-1 Feb. 28 victory. Freshman catcher Burke Camper just barely missed a home run in the top of the ninth inning.
“It was a game for the ages,” says Tyner. “It was unbelievable for me to watch and be a part of.”
A few days later, it was decided between Tyner and Towson athletic director Tim Leonard that the coach would come back to the program in mid-March.
“I needed baseball more than baseball needed me,” says Tyner, who got back in time to see the season prematurely halted with the campus being closed and all classes going online. He came back to Indianapolis.
When things opened back up, players were placed in summer leagues. This fall, the Tigers worked out with social distancing and other COVID precautions.
“It was the most competitive for all of us since I’ve been here,” says Tyner. “We have a chance to be pretty good (2021).”
Towson is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Tigers are not fully-funded. There are 6.2 scholarships available and the NCAA Division I limit is 11.7.
“God love the AD and president of this university (Tim Leonard and Dr. Kim Schaztel),” says Tyner. “They’ve done a phenomenal job of keeping us afloat.
O’Maley told Loggins that he would be a catcher in his program.
Loggins resisted at first, but came to excel behind the plate with the Harrison Raiders.
On March 11, 1995 — the eve of the baseball season — O’Maley passed away at 46 and six Harrison seniors — Loggins, Nate Linder, Brad Pitts, Brad Sherry, Dusty Sims and Jimmy Taylor — served as pall bearers. The players wore No. 42 patches on their uniforms all season as a tribute to O’Maley.
“He was passionate about doing the right thing,” says Loggins of Galema, who is now the school’s athletic director. “He was a very detailed, very organized coach and could not have been a better person.”
“I couldn’t say this more — and I get a little choked up — he’s the best individual I was ever introduced to,” says Loggins of Madison. “He is a genuine individual. It’s how he carries himself.
“He taught us how to be men. Coach Madison took me in where I was struggling to find myself. He helped me immensely. He got me back to confidence and kept me on a path to professional baseball. He’s a very good man.”
At Kentucky, Loggins would start at catcher in midweek games and in Friday and Saturday contests during Southeastern Conference series and be in right field in Sunday.
The righty swinger hit .384 with 15 home runs, five triples, 20 doubles, 63 runs batted in and six stolen bases in 57 games in 1998.
Loggins comes from a baseball family. He father — Vernon Porter “Mick” Loggins — played in local leagues in Danville, Ill. He became an English professor and poet with the pen name V.P. Loggins.
Kenny Loggins, Josh’s uncle, also pitched in Danville.
Grandfather Elmer “Buck” Loggins was a pro in Alabama as was his brother who was known as “Black Diamond” Loggins. He was a coal miner who doubled as a ballplayer.
It was as an outfielder that Josh Loggins was picked in the 11th round of the 1998 MLB Draft and was sent to Idaho Falls, where he hit .341 with eight homers, five triples, 20 doubles, 64 RBIs and and eight stolen bases in 71 games.
Loggins played for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wizards in 1999, hitting .297 with 14 homers, seven triples, 29 doubles, 85 RBIs and and 12 stolen bases in 136 games as the regular right fielder.
Fort Wayne was managed by Dan Simonds, who served stints at Miami (Ohio) University and Xavier University and associate head coach at Indiana University (2014) before becoming Director of Baseball at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Before being with the Wizards he had also been an extra in the movie “Rookie of the Year.”
“Dan was a great guy,” says Loggins. “That was my first experience of what it means to be a professional baseball.
“You no longer call them ‘Coach’; it’s their first name or nickname. You are an equal. You are a professional. (Simonds) was relatable. He was a players’ manager.”
Loggins played professional baseball until 2005. He reached Double-A with the Padres, New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies organizations.
Parts of 2002 and 2003 were spent with the independent Washington (Pa.) Wind Things. He played for the independent Joliet (Ill.) JackHammers in 2004 and 2005. In both places his manager was Lafayette’s Jeff Isom.
As business partners, Loggins, Isom and Dunwoody had a stake in the On Deck Training in Lafayette. Isom runs the facility now with Bobby Bell and Pat Murtaugh as instructors and has a travel ball organization.
“Those were the best times I had in professional baseball,” says Loggins of independent ball. “There was no pressure moving up or playing for next year’s contract. You were playing ball and having fun.”
Perhaps Loggins’ best pro season was 2003 in Washington when he hit .331 with 24 homers, five triples, 13 doubles, 72 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 74 games.
“I was a hitter — that’s what kept me around a long time,” says Loggins. “I was pretty consistent though I did not perform as well as a platoon guy.
“I needed to be in there and keep the routine going and seeing pitches often.”
Loggins struck out over 100 times only once from 1998-2005. In fact, he whiffed 635 times while poking 90 homers, 26 triples and 144 doubles and driving in 468 runs in 2,987 plate appearances. He also swiped 81 bases.
He wound up playing every position except shortstop and pitcher. He also played briefly for Team USA in an international qualifier in Bradenton in 2005.
After his playing days, he spent some time as a Boston Red Sox scout. Registered Investment Advisor is the 43-year-old’s full-time job.
Since the early 1990’s, Loggins has been involved with the Indiana Bulls in one way or another. He played on one of the travel organization’s first teams. This year was his first vice president on the board of directors, lending advice to president Quinn Moore, treasurer Brent Mewhinney, secretary Todd Mewhinney and director of baseball operations Scott French.
Loggins will be the Bulls 10U Black head coach for 2021 with sons Hayes (10) and Tagg (who turns 9 in November) on the team.
Without any prompting from their father or mother (McCutcheon High School graduate and former WLFI News 18 anchor Gina Quattrocchi Loggins), both boys became right-handed throwers who hit from the left side. It’s what felt right to them.
“You’ve got to be comfortable to hit,” says Loggins. “The motion has to be natural.
DeJesus and former WOWO radio personality Charly Butcher founded the Fort Wayne Cubs, which later became the Diamondbacks.
Born in Ponce, P.R., DeJesus moved to Moss Bluff, La., as a boy then Beaumont, Texas, where he was one of only two sophomores to play varsity baseball at West Brook Senior High School (catcher Jason Smith, who went on to the University of Texas-Arlington and the Colorado Rockies organization, was the other).
It was as a 10th grader that DeJesus caught the attention of University of Southwestern Louisiana assistant coach Emrick Jagneaux.
“He said, ‘once you get this thing figured out with the curveball, I’ll come back and pick you up,’” says DeJesus of Jagneaux. “He was true to his word.”
DeJesus went to USL (now known as the University of Louisiana-Lafayette) and went 23-1 in three seasons (1990-92) for the Mike Boulanger-coached Ragin’ Cajuns.
The lefty was 22-0 as a starter. He came on in relief against Oregon State University and three crucial errors led to his only college setback.
In his three seasons, the Ragin’ Cajuns went 47-18, 49-20 and 38-23 and won two American South Conference titles and a Sun Belt Conference West crown.
DeJesus won 13 games for Southwest Louisiana in 1992, was an All-American, co-Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year and selected to Team Puerto Rico. An elbow injury suffered during the Olympic Trials kept him from going to the Barcelona Games, where first-time Olympic baseball qualifier Puerto Rico placed fifth.
In the summer of 1990, DeJesus played American Legion Baseball in Louisiana for McNeese State University head coach Tony Robichaux and assistant Todd Butler.
Robichaux was head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette 1995-2019 (he died after the 2019 season) and won more than 1,100 games in his 33-year career.
The Twins selected DeJesus in the 17th round of the 1992 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
He got into just two games in 1992 then went 9-0 at rookie-level Elizabethton, Tenn., in 1993.
“He’s one of the nicest overall men that has ever graced us with his presence,” says DeJesus of Smith. “His philosophy was very simple: Show us what you can do.”
DeJesus remembers that Smith was very mild-mannered until the morning after an Appalachian League playoff loss at Bluefield, Va., that saw the team get extra-boisterous at the hotel.
Let’s just say the Twins were chewed out before riding back to Tennessee.
Playing at Low Class-A Fort Wayne in 1994, DeJesus encountered manager Jim Dwyer and pitching coach Stew Cliburn.
It was in Fort Wayne that DeJesus, who was in the bullpen at old Memorial Stadium, witnessed the first professional home run for 18-year-old Alex Rodriguez.
DeJesus can still see the hanging slider by Shane Bowers, who had a cup of coffee with the 1997 Twins, that A-Rod popped for the Appleton Foxes.
Southpaw DeJesus was 5-2 with two saves, a 0.93 earned run average, 55 strikeouts and 13 walks in 38 2/3 innings at Fort Wayne and was at Double-A Nashville briefly before injury cut his season short.
DeJesus recalls that a Nashville TV station aired a lengthy piece about his injury. Xpress manager Phil Roof and pitching coach Rick Anderson were complimentary, saying how the lefty had the make-up to be a top-flight closer or set-up man.
“My fastball never came back after surgery,” says DeJesus.
After four games at Double-A New Britain, Conn., in 1995, DeJesus spent parts of that season and all of 1996 in independent pro ball with the Alexandria (La.) Aces and the Rio Grande Valley White Wings in Harlingen, Texas.
DeJesus was with Alexandria again in 1997 and hooked on with the Chicago Cubs system, going 3-1 in eight games in 1997 and 5-5 in 1998 — both for High Class-A Daytona, Fla.
Stan Cliburn, twin brother of Stew and Alexandria manager in 1997, fondly recalls DeJesus.
“Great competitor and a winner when he toed the pitchers mound!,” says Cliburn. “Class act.”
Ricky VanAsselberg, who is now the general manager/field manager of the Acadiana Cane Cutters summer collegiate team in Lafayette, La., was an Alexandria teammate.
“I love Javi,” says VanAsselberg. “What a great guy. Great competitor.
“Warrior on the mound.”
It was Alan Dunn, Daytona pitching coach in 1997, that DeJesus learned the 3-2-1 pitch sequencing method that he employs with his young players to this day.
“He showed me that concept and it’s made a world of difference,” says DeJesus. “It gives you the opportunity to be your own pitching coach.”
The method begins with 12 pitches to various parts of the strike zone — inside and outside — and allows the pitcher to evaluate where is more or less consistent, where he is improving or regressing and where his mechanics can be altered to effect the release point.
DeJesus, who likes to take to Twitter to debunk modern training philosophy, is not a big fan of speed for speed’s sake.
“Look at players’ heart,” says DeJesus. “That can’t be quantified. They don’t play for numbers.
“Velocity is king now. To me that’s not pitching. That’s measurables. You have to integrate velocity and command.
“If you have no clue where it’s going, what’s the purpose of training.”
When teaching his sons to hit, DeJesus has spent time listening to hitting coaches and it’s also helped him as pitching instructor.
“The more I know about hitting, the more I can help pitchers,” says DeJesus. “We can expose weaknesses.”
Puerto Rico-born Jose Santiago, a former big league pitcher and Daytona’s pitching coach in 1998, tried to get DeJesus to become a coach in the Cubs organization.
“I thought I still had some games to play,” says DeJesus. “I wanted to retire on my own terms and not someone else’s.”
Doug Wellenreiter has been swinging a fungo and dishing out baseball knowledge for a long time.
The 2019 season marks his 40th as a coach — five as an assistant at Goshen College after 35 in Illinois at the junior high, high school and professional level.
Since arriving on Hoosier soil, he’s also taken to coaching for the Michiana Scrappers travel organization in the summer.
What does he believe in as a coach?
“Hopefully my kids learn the game and it’s a lifelong value to them,” says Wellenreiter. “The values that you teach are not just baseball. You teach them things in baseball that will help them for the rest of their life — whether it’s discipline, being on-time or never say quit. You hope you have a lasting effect on kids down the road.
“The only important thing is the next one. You don’t take the games with you. You take the people with you. That’s why (baseball’s) the best fraternity to be a part of.”
That fraternity may not have a secret handshake, but it’s given Wellenreiter plenty of memories and perspective.
“Lifelong stuff is what you take with you,” says Wellenreiter, who was pitching coach for a few summers with the independent professional Cook County Cheetahs. “I sometimes had a junior high game in the morning and a minor league game at night. I’m probably the only guy in America who coached junior high and minor league at the same time. Sometimes the junior high game was better.”
What’s the difference between junior high, high school, college and pro?
“In the big picture, the fundamentals of the game is the same,” says Wellenreiter. “It just happens at a faster rate at each level. At the pro level, it happens at 88 to 93 mph. At (the college) level, it happens in the low to mid 80’s. At the high school level, it happens in the 70’s.”
Wellenreiter sees freshmen working to make that adjustment when they arrive at Goshen.
“They may have seen a kid who threw 85 occasionally in high school,” says Wellenreiter. “Now, you’re going to see somebody like that almost everyday at our level. Everybody runs much better at this level. Everybody’s got a better arm.”
Before retiring in 2014 and moving to Goshen to be closer to be closer to one of his daughters and his grandchildren, Wellenreiter was a biology teacher and driver’s education instruction in Illinois.
“I never had any intentions of being a bio teacher when I went to Millikin (University) in Decatur,” says Wellenreiter. “They had the foresight into what the future was going to hold in the education field. You take so much science when you go into P.E. They said, you’re crazy if you don’t take the extra classes so you’re certified to teach science. Make yourself as marketable as you can. That’s all I’ve ever taught — biology.”
With that know-how, it has given the coach a different outlook on training.
“I know how cells work,” says Wellenreiter. “I know what origin of insertion means and the difference between induction and abbuction.”
Wellenreiter helps with scheduling (he has spent plenty of phone time already this season with postponements and cancellations), travel and, sometimes, ordering equipment. He assists in recruiting, especially in Illinois where he knows all the schools and coaches.
On the field, his duties vary with the day. While Grubbs is working with the pitchers, Wellenreiter and Childress mix it up with the positional players. He throws about 400 batting practice pitches a day and coaches first base for the Maple Leafs.
“When you’re at a small college, you have to be a jack of all trades to get things done. You don’t have a huge coaching staff. I’m part-time, but I’m like part-time/full-time.”
Wellenreiter makes up scouting reports before every game. He keeps a chart on every hitter and what they’ve done against each GC pitcher.
“I do it by hand,” says Wellenreiter. “chart where they hit the ball and plot whether it was pull, oppo or straight.
“The most important pitch is Strike 1. I chart that.”
Wellenreiter recalls a batter from Taylor University who swing at the first pitch just three times in 48 at-bats against Goshen.
“Gee, this isn’t rocket science,” says Wellenreiter. “If the guy isn’t going to swing at the first pitch, what are we putting down (as a signal)? Let’s not be fine. Let’s get Strike 1. Now he’s in the hole 0-1 and you’ve got the advantage.
“Sometimes, you can’t over-think it as pitchers. You’ve got to pitch your game and use your stuff. If the guy’s not catching up to your fastball, go with that. Don’t speed his bat up.”
Goshen coaches will sometimes call pitches from the dugout, but generally lets their catches call the game.
Wellenreiter says charts and tendencies sometimes backfire.
“I remember for one player, the chart said he had pulled the ball to the right side in all eight at-bats,” says Wellenreiter. “So he hits the ball to the left of the second base bag.
“I had him at 94 on my radar gun,” says Wellenreiter of Roark, who helped his school win Class A state titles in 2003 and 2005, the latter squad going 41-1. “He’s probably the best I’ve had to go against.”
Wellenreiter notes the differences between high school baseball in Indiana and Illinois and cites the higher number of games they play in the Land of Lincoln.
Illinois allows 35 regular-season games and teams are guaranteed at least one game in the regional (equivalent to the sectional in Indiana). In 2019, the Illinois state finals are May 31-June 1 for 1A and 2A and June 7-8 for 3A and 4A. Regionals begin in the middle of May.
The maximum number of season baseball games in which for any team or student may participate, excluding the IHSAA Tournament Series shall be 28 and no tournament 26 and one tournament.
When eliminated from the tournament, most Illinois teams will let their seniors go and launch right into summer ball, playing 40 to 45 games through early July. The high school head coach usually coaches the team.
“Any kid worth his salt is playing another 25 games in the fall,” says Wellenreiter. “That’s 90 to 100 games a year. The difference in experience adds up. Illinois kids are seeing more stuff.”
Coaching with the Scrappers, Wellenreiter’s teams have never played more than 28 contests.
Junior high baseball is a fall sport in Illinois and has a state tournament modeled after the high school event. The season begins a few weeks before the start of school.
Wellenreiter coached junior high baseball for more than two decades and guided many of the same player from Grades 6 through 12.
There are pockets of junior high baseball around Indiana.
At a small school like Momence (enrollment around 325), coaches had a share athletes. What Wellenreiter saw is that athletes would pick the “glory weekend” if there was a choice between two or more sports.
“One thing I don’t miss about high school is fighting for the kids’ time,” says Wellenreiter. “I never asked my baseball players to do something during the basketball season.”
At Goshen, Wellenreiter can focus on baseball and his family. Doug and wife Kelly have Brooke, her husband and children living in New Paris, Ind., with Bria and her husband out of state.
Doug Wellenreiter is in his fifth season as an assistant baseball coach at Goshen (Ind.) College. It’s the 40th year in coaching for the Illinois native. (Steve Krah Photo)
Getting a pitching staff prepared for an NCAA Division I baseball season takes time.
That’s why Ball State University pitching coach Dustin Glant was more comfortable starting with the Cardinals in the fall and having a full year to help his hurlers develop.
Glant, who had been a volunteer assistant at BSU in 2013, re-joined the staff mid-way through 2016-17 when Chris Fetter (now pitching coach at the University of Michigan) left to take a job with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
It took Glant some time to gain the trust of his pitchers and to know their strengths and weaknesses.
Even with that late start, Glant saw his arms achieve that first season. They did even more in the second one.
The 2018 Cardinals set a program record for strikeouts (560) and ranked sixth in the national with 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Two BSU pitchers were taken in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Glant’s watch — right-hander/designated hitter Colin Brockhouse (Toronto Blue Jays and did not sign) in 2017 and right-hander Evan Marquardt (Cincinnati Reds) in 2018. Left-hander Kevin Marmon (Minnesota Twins) signed as a free agent in 2017.
Right-hander Drey Jameson was named Mid-American Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year and was selected to Collegiate Baseball’s Freshman All-America team in 2018. Right-hander John Baker was on that honor squad in 2017 and is on watch lists for his junior year in 2019.
“In my young coaching career, we’re having success developing velocity,” says Glant, 37. “But in a year and a half, we’re not doing a very good job of throwing strikes. We’ve put a lot of our time in the bucket of how do we get better at commanding the ball and being more attack-focused.”
Do you have to sacrifice speed for control?
“I don’t think we should have to,” says Glant. “We structured some things in the fall with our throwing progression. I’m hoping that translates into more strikes during the season.
“There were some adjustments made in how we play catch, how we throw and our focus level on certain things.”
Glant’s hurlers threw often during the eight-week fall development phase.
Ball State head coach Rich Maloney typically gave Glant and his pitchers 90 minutes on the front side of practice to do their work before joining the full team.
“Not everybody has that luxury,” says Glant. “It’s huge that I have that time from him.
“Then it’s just building volume. We throw a lot. I believe in that. We don’t save our bullets. We want to condition the arm to be able to handle a heavy workload during the season.”
As the fall begins and pitchers begin the “on-ramping” process, Glant takes into consideration how much they’ve thrown during the summer and whether they are a returning arm or a newcomer then he allows so many throws at a certain distance and builds upon that.
After the fall, weight and mobility training becomes a priority and pitchers don’t get on the mound as much.
It really depends on the needs of the athlete.
“We’re really individualized,” says Glant. “Their bodies don’t move the same way. There are different deficiencies that you have to attack a different way.
“You have to learn your guys and know how they work. Then you’re able to hone in on who needs to be doing what.”
As Glant gets his 16 pitchers ready to open the season Feb. 15 against Stanford in Tempe, Ariz., he has them throwing between 25 and 35 minutes before they go into their skill work of flat ground or bullpens.
From his high school stops, he knows what it’s like to have players who can perform at another position and be used on the mound. Troy Montgomery (who played in the Detroit Tigers system in 2018) was an outfielder who Glant tried as a pitcher at Mt. Vernon because of his athletic talent. He also did the same with Brady Cherry (who is now an infielder at Ohio State University) while at Lapel. He was one of the best prep pitchers in Indiana.
Even if they do not play another position in college, Glant wants them to have the mindset of an athlete.
“In high school, typically your best players can do everything and you need them to do more things,” says Glant. “You get guys in college and their brains are thinking ‘I’m only a pitcher.’ It feels like they lose some of that natural athleticism when they were in high school playing more than one sport, more than one position and moving around more.
“We want to turn it back. Let’s get back to being an athlete and get more athletic in our moves.”
Glant is also concerned with what’s happening between his pitchers’ ears.
“It’s huge,” says Glant of the mental game. “It’s my biggest weakness as a coach and our biggest weakness as a pitching staff.
“I devoted my entire summer to learning this thing, understanding it better and being able to help my guys better mentally. We did some good things in the fall and kept it going right through this training time. I hope it pays off.”
Glant says it’s important to develop routines inside of the game and slow down breathing and heart rate when things get out of control.
There’s also questions to be asked and answered.
“How is our self talk?,” says Glant. “Are we reviewing our outings? Are we reviewing our bullpens?”
Glant says he wish he knew more about the mental side when he was a player.
Dave and Sharon Glant are parents to three children — Jessica, Dustin and Nate. Jessica Glant is a physician assistant in Maine. Nate Glant is an assistant baseball coach at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill.
Dave Glant is a third-generation railroad worker.
Dustin looks back on his boyhood and marvels at how hard his father worked and still had something left in the tank to teach him about baseball.
“He worked manual labor,” says Dustin. “He’d come home from these 12-hour shifts and then he’d have the energy to practice with me for a couple hours.”
Dave Glant showed Dustin about being hard-nosed and disciplined and about body language.
“Your opponent should never know how you’re feeling and how things are going,” says Dustin. “My preference is to be stone-faced and the emotion is positive emotion for your team.
Don’t stare a hole through the shortstop when he makes an error behind you.
“We try to get guys to embrace those situations,” says Glant. “What more fun can than picking up your shortstop? He’s excited because you got him off the hook. You’re excited because you got out of the inning with the team.
“That just builds momentum with you to the dugout.”
His father broke down VHS videos for a 12-year-old Dustin to review and use to improve.
“He was way before his time,” says Dustin. “And he was never a college player. He was a dad that really had a passion for helping me get better.”
“To me, he is a legend and like a second father figure,” says Glant of Fireoved. “He picked right up where dad left off with accountability, discipline, work ethic, how to be a good teammate and how to train.”
That intensity continued at Purdue University. The 6-foot-2 right-hander pitched for three seasons for the Boilermakers (2001-03) for head coach Doug Schreiber and assistant coaches Todd Murphy and Rob Smith (now head coach at Ohio University) and was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the seventh round of the 2003 MLB Draft. He competed six seasons in the Diamondbacks organization (2003-08), reaching Triple-A in his last season.
With Maloney, Glant is seeing a different side of coaching.
“I’ve never seen that side of it,” says Glant. “I’m learning how to love your players and how to build relationships.
“You’ve got to be a transformational coach and not a transactional coach. That’s what I’m learning from Rich Maloney.”
Dustin and Ashley Glant have a daughter — Evelyn (16 months). The baby is named for a grandmother on the mother’s side.
Dustin Glant, a Fort Wayne (Ind.) Wayne High School graduate who pitched at Purdue University and in the pro baseball, became the Ball State University pitching coach prior to the 2017 season. (Ball State University Photo)
By his calculations, Nichols trails Curt Bloom (Birmingham Barons) by a few games. He counts Bloom as his longest friendship in the business. Though Bloom is a year older than Nichols, they share the same birthday — Feb. 9. They first crossed paths in the Carolina League and then for years in the Southern League.
“I’m sure I’m in the top 10, but not sure if I’m in the top five,” says Nichols of the longest current radio voices in the minors.
Nichols, 54, was born in Muncie, Ind. At age 7, he became a fan of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine.”
Al Michaels was the Reds play-by-play from 1971-73 and young Tom only missed games when he was playing himself.
Marty Brenneman took over Michaels’ role in 1974 and is still the No. 1 man in the Reds booth. For years, he was paired with former Cincy pitcher Joe Nuxhall.
“You used to be able to your ride bike through neighborhood and listen to the game because someone would have Marty and Joe on there porch,” says Nichols. “In those days, only 10 or 15 games were televised.”
Another way to keep up with the Reds — and baseball — in the ‘70s was by subscribing to The Sporting News. The publication came in the mail each Friday and Nichols devoured the box scores and stories after getting home on the school bus.
While at Ball State University, where he got his diploma in telecommunications in 1986, Nichols called high school football, basketball and baseball for WWHC in Hartford City and one season of Ball State baseball for WERK in Muncie.
He was the news director WLBC in Muncie for almost three years after college when he got his professional baseball broadcasting break.
Getting up the nerve to call Kellman for some advice, he was presented with the opportunity to be a No. 2 voice when musician duties took away.
Nichols did that during the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
“I’m eternally grateful to Howard Kellman for giving me that opportunity,” says Nichols, who has taken the opportunity to pay it forward mentoring young broadcasters as they serve as his second during Dayton home radio broadcasts, take the whole game when Nichols is on the TV side and work extensively in media relations.
“I do that because somebody did it for me,” says Nichols. “We’ve had one every year. Many have gone on to be No. 1’s.”
Owen Serey was in Dayton in 2008 and went on to be the voice of the Midwest League’s South Bend Silver Hawks.
Others who assisted Nichols in Dayton and moved on to lead play-by-play roles include Mike Couzens (Fort Wayne and now with ESPN), Brendan Gulick (Delmarva and now in Cleveland area radio), Keith Raad (Staten Island) and Alex Vispoli (Winston-Salem, Frisco and then the Ivy League).
Bill Spaulding has carved his niche in the broadcasting world by calling Olympic sports for NBC.
While Nichols is with the Dayton all-year and does many things including speaking engagements and has come to thoroughly enjoy audience Q&A’s, the Dragons No. 2 position is seasonal — March-to-September.
Nichols’ first No. 1 gig was with the Kinston (N.C.) Indians of the Carolina League, where he worked for the 1990 season. Jim Thome (just inducted into the Ball Hall of Fame) led the future big leaguers on the Cleveland Indians-affiliated team. A couple others of note were Curtis Leskanic and Robert Person.
He came the Midwest League to lead airings of Peoria (Ill.) Chiefs games in 1991-92. There, he got frequently have former Harry Caray sideman Jimmy Piersall as his analyst.
During much of the time Nichols was in Mobile, he was also an executive director for a franchise management company — Victory Sports Group.
From 2005-07, Nichols was director of broadcasting of the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the independent Northern League. Jermaine Allensworth, an Anderson, Ind., product who had played in the bigs, was with Gary in 2006-07.
Nichols took his current position — Director of Media Relations & Broadcasting at Dayton Dragons Professional Baseball — prior to the 2008 campaign. Dayton’s affiliation with the Reds was one of the things that attracted him about the job.
Hall of Famer Joe Morgan was on the TV broadcast with Nichols this season.
“That was a thrill for me,” says Nichols, who was also pleased when he got to regularly interact with one of his boyhood idols — Ken Griffey Sr., when the former Red was Dayton’s hitting coach in 2010.
“He told me, ‘People tune in for the game, not for you,” says Nichols of Harwell. “When you put yourself ahead of the game, you’re cheating your listeners.”
Nichols does not cheat on his homework either.
“Preparation is key,” says Nichols. “I believe in that strongly.
“That’s the most important thing. The more experience you get, the better you get at preparing.”
Nichols gathers plenty of facts and has them at the ready to use during the game. He knows that he has a three-hour broadcast to fill. On the road, that’s solo. He familiarizes himself with players and coaches and any pertinent storylines around the Dragons or the opponent.
He has at his ready a sheet full of the “last time” nuggets. Who was the last Dayton player to go 4-for-4 or hit three home runs in a game? His list tells him.
For the past two decades, Nichols has been using a ledger-sized scorebook that he devised with the help of veteran Adams, Blackford and Wells County radio man Bill Morris. It gives him room to right in facts about each player, including key statistics. For opponents, he will list things like their college and draft round.
“This way you’re not looking through a media guide,” says Nichols. “Without wasted time, you can quickly mention how many homers has if he just hit another one.
“It is time-consuming. But if you’re willing to put in the time, there will be rewards.”
The most rewarding thing to Nichols is spending time with family.
His parents — Tom Sr. and Fran Nichols — are retired and live in a country house outside Muncie during the summer months and in Marco Island, Fla., other parts of the year. He was a firefighter in Muncie and she an accountant.
Tom Jr. is the oldest of three. There’s also brother David Nichols and sister Kelli (Nichols) Dulaney.
David Nichols is a former Delta basketball player who was one year ahead of Matt Painter (now the Purdue head men’s basketball coach) and played hoops at Huntington University. He works in claims resolution in Indianapolis.
“David is the better athlete,” says Tom Jr., who was inducted into the Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame in the coaches, contributors, media, officials category in 2009. “I was very average.”
Uncle Tom is close with David’s two children — Kaylee Nichols (a volleyball player at DePauw University in Greencastle) and Matthew Nichols (a former Delta basketball player).
Kelli is employed by Delaware County 911.
With his trusty ledger-sized scorebook in front of him, Tom Nichols broadcasts a Dayton (Ohio) Dragons baseball game. He is in his 31st season as a play-by-play man — 11th with Dayton — and is nearing his 4,000th game broadcast, most of those on radio and about 200 for Dayton on television. (Dayton Dragons Photo)
Tom Nichols, a graduate of Delta High School and Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., does a stand-up during a Dayton Dragons telecast. Nichols has been doing minor league baseball play-by-play since 1988 and has been a No. 1 voice since 1990. He started in Dayton 2008. (Dayton Dragons)
From a young age, Zach Huttie knew baseball was about more than just balls and strikes, safe and out.
It could be used to help teach important concepts.
When he was wrapping up his college studies, he felt the call of the diamond.
“I realized I didn’t ever want to leave baseball. I wanted baseball to be part of my life — some way, some how,” says Huttie. “What better way to teach life lessons than through the game of baseball?
“You do fail a ton of times, but it’s how you overcome that failure.”
Huttie is getting the chance to have an impact on the Fort Wayne area community in multiple capacities — all tied to the game he loves.
He came to the Summit City to be an assistant baseball at Indiana Institute of Technology — aka Indiana Tech — and has since added roles at Hoosier Classic Baseball Tournaments director/instructor for the World Baseball Academy and commissioner of the Indiana Summer Collegiate Baseball League.
“I like being able to change lives,” says Huttie, who is changed with Indiana Tech’s defense. “I like being able to see the kids overcome the adversity.”
Huttie also witnesses a growth in maturity.
“They come in as young men and see them become better men as they leave,” says Huttie. “One thing we preach at Indiana Tech is high character.”
Glen McClain, a redshirt junior first baseman and catcher for the Warriors in 2018, stands as an example of that growth.
“I’ve seen Glen blossom not only on the field but off and become a leader and help to mentor the young guys coming in as freshmen,” says Huttie. “It’s a team-first culture. It’s not just a ‘you’ thing, it’s a ‘we’ thing. It’s something we’ve installed.”
During the recruiting process, the Tech staff — led by head coach Kip McWilliams — does research on the player’s personality by talking with people like coaches, umpires and guidance counselors.
“We want to get a feel on who are those men of high school character who will help impact our program at Indiana Tech,” says Huttie.
He earned a bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Communication from Denison and then a master’s degree in Sports and Recreation Sciences with a concentration in Coaching Education from Ohio University. He was a graduate assistant coach for the Bobcats.
It was a recommendation from OU head coach Rob Smith that helped Huttie land at Indiana Tech.
Smith, who played at Vincennes University and Indiana University Southeast, graduated at Indiana University and was an assistant coach at Purdue University, knew McWilliams was looking for an infield coach and sent Huttie his way. He was offered and accepted the job right after the interview.
“You never know who you know and that’s how I got the position up here,” says Huttie.
At the WBA, headquartered in the ASH Centre, Huttie gets to teach the game and also help young people.
“The World Baseball Academy uses baseball as a platform to develop young leaders,” says Huttie. “We work with at-risk youths in the community.”
The ASH Centre has three diamonds with artificial turf infields and natural grass outfields used by players 9U through college and there is plans for more. Huttie organizes and runs the tournaments played there and other area venues.
He works with a WBA leadership group that includes CEO/instructor Caleb Kimmel, director of baseball operations/instructor Andy McManama, senior lead instructor Ken Jones, scholarshipo baseball instructor Tim Petersen, scholarship director Linda Petersen, director of development Linda Buskirk and marketing director Kristen Kimmel, outdoor campus maintenance man Bud Wolf and Dominican Republic trip coordinator Jamie Frazier.
“We’re blessed as a non-profit to do a lot of good for the community,” says Huttie.
The ISCBL was organized a few years ago by McWilliams, Mark DeLaGarza and others to give area collegians a place to play and develop in the summer.
The 2018 season opens Saturday, June 2 and there are three league teams — Fort Wayne Panthers, Northeast Kekiongas and Summit City Sluggers.
In addition to Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders and weekday games with league and area men’s teams, Huttie says the ISCBL will conduct mid-week practices as a large group.
“It’s a developmental league,” says Huttie. Rosters tend to be filled with younger players — freshmen and sophomores.
Through all his baseball involvement in Fort Wayne, Huttie remains very close to his folks.
“My mom and dad our my world,” says Huttie. “They’re my bread and butter.
“I’m an only child. I talk to my parents every single night.”
Zach Huttie is involved in the Fort Wayne baseball community in multiple ways. He is an assistant coach at Indiana Tech, Hoosier Classic Baseball Tournaments director/instructor at the World Baseball Academy and commissioner of the Indiana Summer Collegiate Baseball League. (Steve Krah Photo)