I’m thinking about giving up on stories about Phillies’ staff members being interviewed by other teams. Now that Scott Proefrock’s being winked at by the Orioles, the sheer volume of abandoned desks in the front office and minor leagues is just overwhelming. And I just can’t keep digging out these sexy abandonment issues just to tap into my emotional well.
So let’s talk about a more heartwarming tale of a man returning to the place where he lived out his glory days. That man is Andy Tracy, and you only maybe know who he is.
I recall the name because a friend of mine with the last name “Tracy” spent a summer or two daydreaming about the chance to wear his customized shirsey to a Phillies game without anyone knowing that he was the kind of douche who had a customized shirsey with his own name on it.
But in actuality, there are real, baseballish reasons to know about Andy Tracy. And not just because he was one of those Major Leaguers who had totally normal three and four-year gaps between seasons when he played for ten or 12 games. It’s because he was one of those minor leaguers who set a bunch of records but for whatever reason just couldn’t set the world on fire at the highest level. He’s been around so long that the affiliate he played for in the first seven years of his career doesn’t exist anymore. So if Andy’s path is any indication, we can assume a nice, cushy coaching job awaits Matt Rizzotti.
The minor leagues aren’t a collection of failures, mind you. While down there, Andy got to play for teams from places like Jupiter and Cape Fear, without ever starring in a science fiction or horror movie. But it was his arrival in Lehigh Valley that we’re trying to talk about, if we could stop getting distracted with all the jokes please.
Being a minor leaguer in your mid to late thirties probably feels like exactly what you think it feels like. One might assume a guy would fill his experience with unending bitterness and frequent mirror-punchings, sometimes muttering “…you used to be somebody” at the reflection just prior to the punch. But somebody who did that wouldn’t be able to go out on the field and be an offensively productive player, which Tracy was as a 34-36 year old Ironpig. His first year in Lehigh, he had an OPS over .900, and did other things well, too.
After spending this past season somewhere in the Diamondbacks’ farm system, Andy has apparently decided that he has proven once and for all that he can hit minor league pitching. Now he’s going to manage it. And hitting and fielding. And running. All the things a baseball team does. Because he’ll be a manager.
No one knows where, yet, but they’ve narrowed it down to somewhere in our farm system. Which is a lovely story to hear amidst the the door-slamming of our coaching staff and front office people walking out on us.