21 Dec GETTING TO KNOW NEW YORK METS NEW MANAGER BUCK SHOWALTER
Name: William Nathaniel “Buck” Showalter III
Born: May 23, 1956 (age 65 years), DeFuniak Springs, FL
Managerial record: 1,551–1,517
Teams: New York Yankees (1992–1995)
Arizona Diamondbacks (1998–2000)
Texas Rangers (2003–2006)
Baltimore Orioles (2010–2018)
First paid job: Short-order cook in Hyannis, Massachusetts making $5/hour
Favorite team growing up:
New York Yankees
Favorite player growing up:
(This interview is a combination of a few interviews done with Buck over the last thirty years)
After hiring three straight inexperienced managers, the Mets this past weekend decided to Buck the recent trend and hire Buck Showalter as the team’s new manager. Team owner Steve Cohen announced the hiring on Twitter, ending a search that began in October after the Mets declined Luis Rojas’ 2022 option. Showalter, according to a source, received a three-year contract that will be the richest in franchise history for a manager, surpassing the $9.4 million deal Art Howe landed (over four years) before the 2003 season. “I’m pleased to announce Buck Showalter as the new manager of the New York Mets,” Cohen tweeted. The 65-year-old Showalter “aced” his second interview a day earlier, according to a source, prompting Cohen and general manager Billy Eppler to move swiftly in ending the managerial search. Showalter will take over a win-now team that includes stars Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Francisco Lindor. Showalter took the Orioles to the postseason three times from 2010-18, but also presided over a team that plummeted to 47 victories in his final season in Baltimore.
Your first managerial job in the major leagues was for the New York Yankees and their infamous owner, George Steinbrenner. Was that a difficult place for a young manager to begin?
I was with the Yankees organization for 19 years, so when I got there I kind of knew the job description. I’d seen a lot of things, so nothing really caught me off guard, so to speak. I had coached in the big leagues; I had been an eye-in-the-sky coach in the big leagues. And one thing I knew was that nobody wanted to hear you complain about it. You know the job description going in. You had an owner that was very driven to win every game. And he was part of the job description. I got a one-year contract, so I was on a day-to-day plan and I knew that going in. So what do you do? Say no?
When I quit playing, I had a chance to keep playing in Triple-A with the Yankees, go play with another team in Triple-A and try to make their big-league club, or take the Yankees hitting coach job in the Florida State League. And I had just gotten married and I took $13,000 a year for the coaching job and ran with it. I took that opportunity and grinded each day. I never was working on my next job. You do that job as hard as you can and see where it leads. I didn’t stop playing so I could figure out how to manage in the big leagues. You know, do what you do.
The Yankees, to me, was an advantage because you got everything thrown at you and you have these moments where your confidence gets elevated because you go, “OK, I can do this.” I always ask players and coaches, “What can you bring that I can’t find on every street corner?” I never complained about Mr. Steinbrenner publicly because it was part of the job description. Yankees fans just wanted us to show them more wins. They didn’t care about all the other stuff.
What would you say is your favorite part about being a major league manager?
Having a job that you enjoy.
What is the toughest part about being a manager?
Telling somebody something they don’t want to hear.
How was Buck Showalter different as a manager for the Orioles than he
was in the early 1990’s for the Yankees?
I don’t know if “change” is the right word, but I’m proud of the adjustments I made. You’re there to serve the needs of the team and the organization. Every organization, every team is different. What was needed in Baltimore was different than New York. What was needed in Arizona was different than Texas. We couldn’t do it in Baltimore the way the Yankees or the Red Sox do it. We just didn’t have the payroll and we were never going to have that payroll. So you embrace the different ways you have to do it.
You have to keep in mind that it’s a players’ game, it’s a fans’ game. Those are the two people you’re constantly trying to satisfy. So, I was constantly asking the front office and ownership, “Who are we?” Because you want to be consistent in your message to the fans and to the players. And you adjust to the situation. Obviously in Arizona there was a different job description. Just as there was a different job description in Baltimore or Texas or New York. The biggest mistake coaches and managers make is that they forget how hard the game was to play and how bad they were on a given night. You’ve got to know who you are and you’ve got to stay true to it.
Anything you’d like to change about the game of baseball?
There are a lot of things. I would throw out American League, National League and have one MLB and get all these teams in regional divisions where everybody is playing in the same time zone. Universal DH or no DH? I don’t care. Just make sure everybody’s playing by the same rules. And then have everybody play everybody so you’ve got the integrity of a schedule where everybody’s played the same people that you’ve played. It’s not that hard. You can do it. It’s going to take some imagination, but you can do it.
If you weren’t a baseball manager what do you think you would have
done for a living?
I don’t know. Probably a coach of some sort.
Who got you into sports?
Favorite ballpark and why?
Yankee stadium. Just the sense of tradition and the atmosphere and the fans. The fans are more knowledgeable than any other fans in the game.
Favorite city and why?
Other than New York, probably Chicago and Seattle. It’s just very nice and I like the friendliness and the people.
Favorite non-baseball sports team?
Pacific State University or the Boston Celtics.
What would you say is the best part about managing in New York?
Getting the chance to try to repay an organization that has given you a livelihood and a chance to support your family and a chance to be a part of a championship here.
What would you say was the most embarrassing moment you’ve had in baseball?
Probably getting hit in the groin with about 25,000 people in attendance.
Is there a player that you would pay to watch?
There are many. Definitely Don Mattingly.
If you could meet anyone famous who would it be?
I would have liked to have met Martin Luther King
Favorite Movie Star:
I guess John Wayne.
We hate to bring up what may be a sensitive subject, but have you been able to put your involvement in the cotton uniform fiasco with the Yankees behind you?
Oh, geez. You know what? I get something almost daily about that. I get five or six things (to sign) every day and probably two of them are about Seinfeld. I didn’t realize what a popular show it was. I came home one day and I said I got a phone call today, asking if I’d do this show called “Seiny-feld” or something. I was pronouncing it crazy and my kids started giggling. “Oh, Dad, you’ve got to do it, it’s real popular.” So I did it. My G-d, I couldn’t believe how many people… I signed something yesterday that said, “Cotton uniforms, huh?”
What would you say is your fondest baseball memory?
Probably my dad catching my first homerun in little league and playing catch with him in the backyard.
If somehow you were given a “do-over,” is there anything in your
career that you would change.
I’m not one of those guys that says, “Oh, I wouldn’t change a thing.” You step on your tail and you don’t do it that way again. I learned more from managers I was around, and coaches, where I went, “OK, that wasn’t a good way to handle that; I’ll remember not to do it that way.” You learn as much from those guys as you do from the Johnny Oateses of the world. You learn good things from people and you take out the bad and you figure out who you are. I don’t live in that type of regret world and this and that, whatever. Hey, if I had known how everything was going to end, we’d never have lost a game.
If I had one “do-over,” it would probably be something I did with another human being that I wish I’d have handled differently. I might have hurt somebody’s feelings or had a different reaction to something on a personal basis with a player or another coach. But as far as, “Oh, I wish I had brought this guy in” or “I wish I had played that guy,” there’s so many things that go on that people just don’t know and that’s okay. You leave it that way. You try to dwell on all the good things that worked out, that you were allowed to be a part of. You know, it’s an honor that you’re allowed to coach and manage players. The game could survive without you. And it will. So, just do the right thing and treat people like you’d like to be treated and you’ll be surprised where it will take you. But don’t be working on your next job. I’ve always said that.