Tim Doherty (File Photo)
Tim Doherty spent nine years on the field for the Kansas City T-Bones, starting as a bullpen coach, before going to first base coach, to bench coach, to hitting coach to, finally, manager. Last winter he accepted a job with the Boston Red Sox as a coaching assistant. In this Friday Flashback, as we catch up with former T-Bones associates who have moved to other sports ventures, we lead off with Doherty, who spoke on the phone with Matt Fulks.
Matt Fulks: You traveled around the Major Leagues with the Red Sox, but talk about the first time you were on the field at historic Fenway Park.
Tim Doherty: Any time you walk onto any Major League field, it’s a surreal feeling, whether it’s Kauffman Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field or Fenway. There’s a reason why players and coaches work so hard at every level; it’s to get to that point, to that opportunity. You never get used to that feeling. You can’t take it for granted. I spent 81 games at Fenway and the 81st was like the first. We went to Wrigley Field, and to think of all of the great players who have been there, is amazing. It did happen to be Fenway’s 100th anniversary, which made that a little more awesome. But the opportunity to walk onto a Major League field is indescribable. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come every day. You learn that quickly from the players and other coaches.
MF: Was there a moment when it hit you that, “I’ve made it to the Major Leagues”?
TD: It hits you every day. You have an opportunity to meet so many people, not only in the baseball world. Every day it’s WOW! My batting practice group every day was Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Dustin Pedroia. That’s quite a group to be throwing to. But then, you’re on the road at Yankee Stadium, waiting for the Yankees to finish their BP, watching guys like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. It’s amazing.
MF: Do any specific stories or experiences stand out?
TD: Each day has an evolution of stories in baseball. The experiences obtained were incredible with so many things to learn. I took the opportunity to watch every day and learn. My job was to throw batting practice and to help the batting coach do whatever was needed. That was my whole job. To be able to sit in the background and watch and learn everything that took place – I’ll never forget it. On top of that, to see the players and their routines and work ethic.
MF: Do any of them stand out or are they all just great?
TD: You know, Dustin Pedroia is a Major League Baseball player, but he’s one of the hardest working guys and most prepared that I’ve ever seen at any level. He beat everyone to the clubhouse before every game. He’d be the first in the batting cage every day. He was the first one on the field to take ground balls. After batting practice, he’d be the first one back down in the cage, ready to go in full uniform. He loved to learn about the game and our opponents. He was phenomenal in terms of preparation. If you’d want to emulate someone to be a Major League Baseball player, follow Dustin Pedroia for one day. And it doesn’t matter what day, whether it’s the first game or the 162nd. In my opinion, he was the utmost professional I’ve ever seen in a baseball uniform, by far.
MF: Is that coaching or his personality?
TD: That’s just Dustin Pedroia, but I’m so impressed by the work ethic that (then-batting coach) Dave Magadan instilled in those guys. They were the most prepared hitters in the league. That doesn’t mean they performed every day, but Dave had them ready. The guys picked up on that and took off with it. They would start every day, on the road or at home, in the cage at 2:30. The hitters enjoyed doing what they could do because of Dave. Working with him was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in baseball.
MF: As you think about that experience and then think back to your time with the T-Bones, what stands out?
TD: As I think back now to my experience with the T-Bones, I think mainly about the traditions instilled and the people. We tried to instill a tradition of winning – although we weren’t always successful – but it was about the team, the city and the front office. The team honored so many great people around Kansas City from the Frank Whites of the city to first responders and military personnel. You never forget things like that. Credit starts at the top with (President) Adam Ehlert, former general manager Rick Muntean and current general manager Chris Browne, who instill the traditions and then pass them along to the people who work for them. It’s a great atmosphere.
MF: Considering you were here from 2003 through 2011, you saw some great teams and great players.
TD: I’ve seen talent at all levels now, but the talent at that league is fantastic. Not only the T-Bones, but teams throughout the league have great players.
MF: The Red Sox have made some coaching moves since their season ended, including Magadan going to the Texas Rangers. Any idea where you’ll be next year?
TD: Boston is still a possibility, as are a few other clubs. Things will shape up in the next few weeks.
MF: Wherever you end up, we wish you nothing but the best.
TD: Thanks, Matt, I appreciate it. The T-Bones remain important to me. I'm still a huge fan.