Tim Ward is full of positive energy as he manages his SaddleBrooke Senior softball team in their final game of the winter season last month.
He shouts advice and encouragement from his outfield position, the third-base coaching box and the dugout.
“Hit that Longo sign in right center field,” he says to one of the team’s sluggers. “Good swing Joe,” after a solid hit to the outfield by his second baseman. “No time like the present” to the team after they fall behind by a few runs late in the game.
Ward is one of 21 men and women who managed the 26 teams (a few managed more than one team) in the 15-week winter softball season at SaddleBrooke. They do so because they love the game, and somebody has to do it.
Before the start of the season, managers work with league commissioners to agree on team rosters. On game day, the two managers work together to ensure the proper equipment is on the field and in the dugouts, the infield is dragged and the American flag is raised.
But the most critical job of the manager is filling out the lineup card— who bats when, where they play in the field and selecting courtesy runners— and that can be tricky. As one manager put it, “the hardest part is trying to please everyone.” It also helps to be part cheerleader.
Ward manages in the most competitive league. He puts players where he feels they can be most effective even if they are not always in their preferred positions. They usually understand.
“It’s difficult to get everyone the time they want in the positions they like sometimes,” he says.
Ward considers it a job well done if his team is competitive and enjoys the season. “That’s why we play,” he says.
Ward’s advice to first-time managers? “Enjoy the process. Remember, your job is to make lineups and put a defense together. The guys will do the rest. I look at it as being more of a coordinator than actually being a manager.”
Like the other managers, Chuck Kill volunteered because he wanted to give something back after being part of the organization for more than five-years. He managed three teams in the winter season.
He stresses patience with players. “In every league, some players are better than others, but most try to do the best they can. We should give every player the opportunity to improve their skills.”
A successful season for him as manager is no player injuries, fun for all and every team finishes with a .500 record.
David Bohlman says the best thing he can do as a manager is to encourage teammates, win or lose. He appreciates every player and avoids criticism.
“Even at our age, we are still competitive and want to win. However, when the game is over, we need to remember it’s just a game and there’s always another,” he says.
To Tom Klein, a good manager knows his players strengths and weaknesses and the rules of the game.
The hardest part of managing, for him, is breaking it gently to a player that they really are not suited for position they believe they are capable of playing. He is thankful, however, that at the end of the week most of us don’t remember what happened in the previous games.
He added that any manager who says they don’t play to win might not be telling the truth.
The other managers in the winter season were: Jim Watts, Terry Mihora, Ron Quarantino, Tony Lulek, Ed Cussick, Harold Weinenger, Paul Auster, Steve Pede, Ron Romac, Debbie Seguin, Sam Alkhoury, Tim Benjamin, Curt DeHaan, Dennis Purcell, Stacy Dawson, Dick Furash and Steve Schneck.
If you are interested in learning more about SaddleBrooke Softball, check out our website online. Visit saddlebrookesoftball.com. The league is midway through its eight-week spring season. Games are Monday thru Friday in five leagues based on skill level.