By STEVE KRAH
One never knows where life’s path might lead them.
But his first full-time teaching and coaching position took him to Frankfort, Ind.
“They needed a pitching coach and brought me into the mix,” says Dudley. “That was a great experience for me.
“I got to work with some really good pitchers and catchers.”
He also received a lead that led him to where he is today. Burns told Dudley of an opening for a math teacher and head baseball coach at Frankfort High School.
Burns had been working on the Hot Dogs’ playing facility with his Diamond Vision baseball field business.
Dudley, who graduated from IUPUI in 2001, got an interview at Frankfort and was hired as a teacher and head coach.
“It was a really great fit for me,” says Dudley. “I was grateful for that.”
The 2003 baseball season was his first, which makes the 2019 slate his 17th in Clinton County.
“What I enjoy is that it’s a (an IHSAA Class) 3A school and a big enough town,” says Dudley. “It’s small enough to know all of my kids coming up.
“It’s in the middle of a very rural county. About half of the baseball program is Hispanic. It’s a unique experience.”
Frankfort went 15-13 and won the Sagamore Conference title in 2018. The SAC, which plays home-and-home series on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the last two games split up between a Friday and Saturday, also features Crawfordsville, Danville Community, Lebanon, North Montgomery, Southmont, Tri-West Hendricks and Western Boone.
Frankfort participated in Indiana’s first state high school baseball tournament back in 1912 and lost in the second round to eventual semifinalist Fort Wayne.
Recent Frankfort graduates have gone on to make an impact at the college level, including shortstop Leo Lopez at Marian University in Indianapolis and outfielder Jarrod Smith at Franklin (Ind.) College.
Dudley expects three current Hot Dog seniors — Casey Henry, Christian Lopez and Jose Valdes Sandoval — to play college ball. All three are right-handed pitchers. Henry and Lopez (brother of Leo) are also outfielders while Valdes Sandoval plays third base.
Dudley’s varsity coaching staff includes two of his former Frankfort players (Blake Ayers and Kansas Varner) as well as an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer (Dennis Kas). Ayers played at Huntington University and Varner at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Isaac Field and Steve Royer will run the junior varsity program.
Dudley says he typically has carries about 25 players for the two squads, which play their games on-campus at a field which has added a pro-style backstop and new dugouts in recent years. Decorative blocks are part of the backstop facade with salutes to alumni and prominent former players and teams.
“It looks really nice,” says Dudley. “We did most of the work ourselves (the team and local baseball backers).”
Among those feeding the Hot Dogs are Frankfort Little League, Frankfort Rotary Baseball (for seventh and eighth graders) and Frankfort-based Indiana Giants travel team. Frankfort has also sent players to travel with the Indiana Bulls and Indiana Prospects among others.
Dudley played for Greg Miller at Knightstown High School, graduating in 1996.
Miller, who had been a member of the Ball State University’s NCAA Sweet Sixteen basketball team in 1989-90, was also Dudley’s basketball coach at Knightstown.
“The biggest thing I got from Coach Miller was the way handled himself as a role model and an adult,” says Dudley, who was a catcher for the Panthers in the spring and while playing for the Bulls and coach Bret Shambaugh in the summer.
As IUPUI head coach, Shambaugh attracted Dudley to play in the capitol city.
“A lot of what I do as a coach and did as a player came from (Shambaugh),” says Dudley. “He was really demanding as a coach but I learned a lot.”
In his second year, he became a full-time pitcher.
Former Jaguars assistant Brian Donahue was IUPUI’s head coach in Dudley’s last two seasons.
“We were just converting to a Division I athletic program,” says Dudley. “I got to be put into a leadership role.”
Andy and Mandy Dudley have two children. Daughter Alaina (12) is a sixth grader. Son Brock (10) is in fourth grade. The couple met when both taught at Greenwood (Ind.) Middle School.
Head coach Andy Dudley (far left in back row) celebrates with his Frankfort (Ind.) High School baseball team after it won its second straight IHSAA Class 3A sectional title in 2016.
Andy Dudley has been the head baseball coach at Frankfort (Ind.) High School in the 2003 season.