Trembley and Shelby Share Common GoalPosted on November 06, 2007
By Craig Heist
To say John Shelby was surprised to get a call from Orioles manager Dave Trembley offering him the first base coaching job with the club is an understatement.
“When Dave Trembley called last week, actually I was shocked, because I had no idea there was a vacancy with the Baltimore Orioles as a first base coach working with outfielders and baserunners, which is what I do,” Shelby said. “I had no idea Sam Mejias had resigned, and I had called just about every club that was looking for coaches.”
Shelby managed in the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor league system from 1993-1997 before being promoted to the big league club as first base coach in 1998. He spent the last two seasons as a coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and when he made those calls the results were not good.
“Every phone call that I had received had a negative response,” he said. “Not in a bad way, but I only called people I knew I had a relationship with, and I knew I had a relationship with the Orioles. But when Dave called me, we hit it off right away, and he made me want to be a part of the Orioles organization.”
Shelby was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 1977 First Year Player Draft. He played 11 years in the big leagues and earned two World Series championships, one with the Orioles in 1983 and then again with the Dodgers in 1988 when they beat the Oakland Athletics.
It’s Shelby’s connection with the last Baltimore championship team, along with his overall career as a player and a coach, that makes him believe he is the right man to help teach young players in this organization.
“I have my roots in Baltimore,” he said. “I learned how to play the game at a professional level, 'the Oriole Way.' The Oriole Way was taught not only at the major league level; it was also taught in rookie ball, A-ball, Double-A and straight on up. So every time a player advanced, everyone knew what was expected of him. The only way you could advance was knowing how to play the game the right way. So, with the foundation I had, I was able to implement that into my game and make it a part of myself.
"I took care of myself, I always stayed in shape, and I still do to this day. I honestly believe I carried myself the right way as a professional, so I believe I have some things I can add to the game, to the locker room and to Dave’s staff, and I really believe that’s the reason he called me.”
Trembley praised Shelby for being a coach with the kind of resume he has been looking for as he rounds out his staff.
“I wanted to bring someone back who understood the history and the tradition of the Baltimore Orioles,” Trembley said. “I also wanted a person of integrity who understands the Oriole Way of doing things. He had come up through the system, played on a World Series team, and is a very good teacher.
"Shelby is a man of high character, dignity and respect and would be a real positive influence on our players. He is just a real good fit in terms of what we are looking for, which is to try and restore some of the things that are real important to the organization.”
There have been 10 straight losing seasons, and if 1989, 1996 and 1997 are taken out of the equation, things have been dismal in Bird Land since that last World Series title in 1983.
Shelby has an idea of why things aren’t done the way they used to be.
“Well, the one way it gets back is to have someone who’s been there before,” Shelby said. “You know, sometimes an organization has a way of how they taught things, and they have ways of how the organization was built, and sometimes that organization gets shaken because so many parts of it either grown older or guys have gone on to different ways. Sometimes it’s forgotten, and then some other guys come in and try to implement new ways.”
That is why Shelby thinks he can help restore the Orioles.
“With myself being a part of a winning tradition when I was in the Orioles organization, I can still remember how it was when I played,” he said. “I also know what it feels like to be a winner. I played on two world championship teams, I have been with good ballclubs, and I have been with good players who know how to play the game. I still feel like with what I have learned as a player and as a manager in the minor leagues and as a coach over the past seven or eight years, I think I have something to offer those guys, and I think I will be a good example for them.”
When it comes to the game and the way Trembley wants his team to play it, Shelby shares similar philosophies.
“That was a real big influence for me,” Trembley said. “He was a very aggressive type baserunner and a very aggressive type player. He was a very fundamentally sound player, and I want him to translate that to our guys.
"I told him our club is going to be built on pitching and defense, and I like speed at the top of the lineup. I like to run the bases. I like to give guys at the top of the lineup opportunities to run. We are certainly going to devote a good portion of our spring training to baserunning drills, and John is going to be in charge of those things.”
Trembley said he hopes to have his bench coach named by early this week. Meanwhile, along with naming Shelby first base coach, the Orioles named Lee MacPhail IV as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. They also hired Brian Graham as a special assignments coach for the minor leagues.
Issue 2.45: November 8, 2007