By STEVE KRAH
The baseball journey of Bobby Segal has taken the Indianapolis native all over the Midwest and beyond and he has gained something at each stop.
The hitting coach for the Evansville Otters of the independent professional Frontier League and an instructor at Britton’s Bullpen in Boonville, Ind., credits father Elliott Segal and grandfather Al Segal for his “love of the game.”
“My dad and grandpa instilled it in me at a young age,” says Bobby, who started out at Westlane Trails Little League and played on an Indiana state Babe Ruth championship team at age 13 before playing travel baseball for the Chris Estep-coached Indiana Mustangs. “They were never overbearing about it. I got constructive criticism at a young age.”
Bobby’s grandfather had played at Indiana University and his father played at Broad Ripple High School, where he later coached, taught and served as assistant athletic director.
Elliott Segal, husband to Carol, is a long-time scoreboard operator for the Indiana Pacers and Bobby spent his childhood at Market Square Arena (since replaced by Bankers Life Fieldhouse).
Bobby played baseball at North Central High School in Indianapolis for coach Rick Shadiow and served his last three prep years (2000, 2001 and 2002) as batboy and then two years on the grounds crew for the Indianapolis Indians.
“I enjoyed the relationship of running the balls to the umpires and going to their locker room before the game,” says Segal of his batboy duties. “I did whatever I could to make their jobs easier. I enjoyed being around the game and getting to know some of the players. I got see those guys move up (to the big leagues).
“I can’t think of a better job for a high school kid.”
He also took pride in taking care of Victory Field.
“That’s a big league playing surface — no doubt about it,” says Segal. “That’s why a lot of people enjoy playing there.”
Segal was a walk-on catcher at Indiana University, playing three seasons for Bob Morgan and one for Tracy Smith.
Many lessons were learned at IU.
“I learned about punctuality, how to present yourself and being unified as a team,” says Segal. “The game speeds up at each level.”
He recalls vividly a defensive drill run by Morgan that employed two fungo bats and had three baseballs in motion at one time
“If you weren’t paying attention, you were bound to get a ball whizzing past your head,” says Segal. “His practices very regimented. (Morgan) is one of the most passionate guys I’ve been around. He loves the game so much. He wanted his players to be disciplined.
“I have a lot of respect for him. He gave me a chance to play college baseball.”
Right out of IU, where he received a bachelor’s degree in sports marketing/management, he joined the Cincinnati Reds organization in baseball operations, spending time at spring training as well as the minors and in Cincinnati.
Segal then became a graduate assistant coach at Union (Ky.) College, where he worked for Bulldogs head coach Bart Osborne.
In Osborne, he found a kindred spirit and mentor.
“Bart and I very similar,” says Segal. “He is a planner. Whether there was a practice or a game, I’ve never been around anybody who was more competitive than he was.
“I learned a lot of great things from him on the baseball side and the planning side.
“Bart has a great baseball mind.”
After two springs at Union, Segal served one season each as a volunteer assistant to Steve Farley at Butler University in Indianapolis, assistant to Marc Rardin at Iowa Western Community College and assistant to Bryan Conger at Tarleton State University in Texas.
The Reivers of Iowa Western won National Junior College Athletic Association Division I World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and qualifying during Segal’s season in Council Bluffs (2011).
Segal was also recruiting director at Tarleton State and left the Texans for a four-season stint as hitting and catching coach/recruiting director to Rob Fournier at Wabash Valley College in Illinois.
During the summers, Segal got more diamond know-how as hitting coach and interim manager for the North Adams (Mass.) SteepleCats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 2010, hitting coach for the Brian Dorsett-managed Terre Haute Rex of the summer collegiate Prospect League in 2012, third base/hitting coach for the Greg Tagert-managed Gary SouthShore RailCats of the independent professional American Association in 2013 then returned for two seasons as manager of the Terre Haute Rex.
Gary won the AA championship when Segal was on the staff.
“It was a veteran clubhouse,” says Segal. “I was around guys with Double-A and Triple-A time. We had chemistry and experience for the entire summer. It is one of the best experiences I ever had.”
The 2015 Rex won a frachise-record 43 games and the Prospect League title.
“A lot of guys that bought into what we were trying to do,” says Segal. “I was trying to give them a pro experience at the collegiate level.
“They got a taste of it and a lot of team chemistry. We completed the mission at the end of 2015.”
Hired by manager Andy McCauley, Segal spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with Evansville and will be back with the Otters in 2018.
Meanwhile, Segal is teaching the game to younger players. He enjoys working with both amateurs and pros.
“I love to see the light bulbs turn on for the young kids,” says Segal. “I encourage them to do a more athletic movement and then we see the ball jump off their bat or go in their mitt and get a good exchange.”
Looking to give a well-rounded experience, he spends the first half of a lesson on things like base running and defense and the second half on hitting.
“We’re doing all facets of the game in one trip to Britton’s Bullpen,” says Segal.
At the pro level, it’s about batting cage work and developing daily routines.
“I love the uniqueness of the routines and the camaraderie I can build with the professional guys,” says Segal. “It’s all about competing when the lights come on (at game time).”
In his one-hour sessions with younger players, he helps them make small adjustments and keeps the mood light.
He avoids the major overhaul with his pro hitters.
“I see them a little over four months of the year,” says Segal. “Most of them have hitting coaches back home or wherever they’re at. I’m preaching routines and game-time approach
“I’m trying to give them as much information from a mental approach side of things.”
Matt Segal, Bobby’s older brother, is a former media relations worker for the Indianapolis Indians and sports information director at Morehead State University. He was with the National Football League’s Rams before they moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles and is now digital content manager for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
Matt’s wife, Jenifer Langosch, covers the St. Louis Cardinals for MLB.com.
Bobby and Rachel (Harvey) Segal reside in Fort Branch with their two children — son Asher (2 1/2) and daughter Lillian (almost 6 months).
Bobby Segal, an Indianapolis native, is entering his third season as hitting coach of the Evansville Otters in 2018. He is also an instructor at Britton’s Bullpen in Boonville, Ind. (Evansville Otters Photo)