Buck Showalter, who will begin his 20th season as a major league manager in 2018 and his ninth with the Baltimore Orioles, is one of the most admired managers in baseball, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that four current major league managers played for him.
Mickey Callaway, who was named the New York Mets manager in October, pitched just 40 games in the major leagues, and Showalter was his manager for the final 10 in 2003 and 2004 with the Texas Rangers.
"He had countdown clocks in spring training to the first pitch of the season, counting down to the second," Callaway said at December's Winter Meetings.
"He cared about his players. He communicated with his players. He made sure he was around. He didn't just sit in his office. I learned a ton of stuff with Buck. Even his relationships with other people in the game, like if you see him during [batting practice], he's kind of moseying over. He's standing on third base, behind the screen, watching BP, talking to the opposing coaches. He's a relationship person, and I learned a lot from him."
Craig Counsell, who's starting his third season as the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, played for Showalter in 2000 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"There was no detail that he had not accounted for," Counsell said. "If you had thought of it, he had thought of it long before you did. That's the feeling I always got from Buck, so there were no surprises. He wasn't surprised by anything. That's always a lesson. I think when you see a manager like that, you're like, 'He's thought of it, he's thinking of it.' If there's 30 hours in the day, it felt like he had 30 hours to think about it because he knew everything that was going to happen."
Bob Melvin played just nine games for Showalter in 1994 with the New York Yankees, but the pair has managed against each other for years. Showalter has been outspoken in his admiration for Melvin, who's beginning his eighth season with the Oakland Athletics.
"I learned quite a bit from Buck," Melvin said. "I wasn't an everyday player, so he tried to prepare me for the roles he was going to give me. He would come to me a couple of days ahead of time and say, 'This is when you're going to play, who you're going to play against, and this is why.' And that made you feel pretty good and confident."
Melvin is always monitoring Showalter from the opposing dugout.
"He's a guy that you're constantly worried about because you know he's not going to miss anything," he said. "The way he handles his bullpen, he's terrific. He [is] just one of the great managers of all time. Not only did I learn a lot when I was a player for him, I continue to learn from him, watching him from the other side."
In 1981, Showalter and current Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly were teammates for the Yankees' Double-A team in Nashville. Showalter quickly realized Mattingly would be an excellent big league player and he wouldn't. He later managed Mattingly for four seasons in New York.
"He had a good vision of who could play and who couldn't," Mattingly said. "He did a lot of things when he came in. … We were not playing very well as an organization. Buck really was the first piece of stability of the New York Yankees. He was the guy that set the tone for what went on there."
Mattingly's playing career and Showalter's managerial career in New York ended concurrently in 1995, but the impression Showalter made hasn't been forgotten.
"Buck started that train," Mattingly said. "Buck came up and put in all the preparation stuff. We were going to prepare. We were going to do this. We were going to do that. If we don't have the right guy, we're going to move him on. Buck had a great vision for young players and what he wanted."