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Exclusive Interview: Nor-Gwyn Manager Kevin Manero, Part 2

This is the second half of the interview conducted with Nor-Gwyn Hawks manager Kevin Manero. 


PA ALB


What type of interaction, if any, do you have with the high school coaches that your legion team draws from?


Coach Manero


As an assistant coach with North Penn High School, it is very easy for me to stay in communication with most of our guys all year long. Last year we did, however, have players on the roster from seven different schools, so that is a big challenge sometimes. But over the last nine years, I feel we have had a good rapport with the high school programs, which is very important. It is all for the players, and there is no benefit for a player if his two coaches don't communicate and work well together, so we try to make sure that is always the case.


 

PA ALB


Nor-Gwyn has produced some very fine individual talent in the past. Do you think legion baseball helps prepare those players for the rigors of college ball? Do you keep in contact with your players after they head off to college?


Coach Manero


 

I talked about this topic at length in the article posted on this site. The answer is absolutely, yes. If an American Legion program is run and operated the proper way, a player is getting the regimen, the consistency, and the quality that he needs in youth baseball to prepare him for the same rigors at the next level. I stay in touch with our collegiate players a lot and try to get to see them play whenever possible. It is great to hear about their successes, and it is always beneficial to find out what they are doing in their college (and in some cases pro) programs so that we can make sure we continue to provide those same approaches at the Legion level.

 


PA ALB


Several years ago, after claiming second place in the state at Bear Stadium in Boyertown, you gave a short speech about how the grass isn't always greener away from legion baseball.  Do you still believe that legion ball provides better level of play and better prepares athletes for the future than AAU and other showcase based organizations?


Coach Manero


First, I should say - I give Boyertown all the credit in the world for what they have created and  maintained at Bear Stadium. I respect Rick Moatz, Craig Eddinger, and their entire staff for what they do as coaches and community members, and their players always play with class and professionalism. I hope people say the same things about our program as well, and I certainly hope that people can see and understand why American Legion baseball is such a great institution. If they haven't, getting to a postseason game at Bear Stadium is a pretty good first step, and I meant every world of what I said there in 2009, and still believe it.


In the article I wrote, which is posted on this site, I go through a very thorough explanation of why I think Legion baseball still provides  a better overall baseball experience than the other options. But I'm a practical realist too, and I feel that American Legion baseball does need to make some changes to modernize and fight back against the outside organizations to which some kids turn. What we have in American Legion baseball is very good, but resting on those laurels is not good. I'd like to see American Legion baseball publicize and advertise itself a lot more, and I'd like to see the Legion World Series pushed back a week as it used to be in order to enable the 95% of teams that did not benefit from moving the series up a week to be able to play a less condensed regular season.  That said, I am a huge supporter of what Legion baseball stands for on many, many levels, and I think kids have a lot to gain from being a part of it.



PA ALB


Does going from 7 inning league games to 9 innings in the playoffs adversely affect your league's teams?  The vast majority of leagues play 7 innings, but do you have to worry about fatigue setting in and strategy differences in the longer games?

 


Coach Manero


I think if our guys play the game the right way, condition themselves properly, and pitchers attack the plate to keep their pitch counts economical, playing seven inning games is fine. All other levels of baseball that play nine innings everyday have at least 25 man rosters, and at the college level often more than that; they also have at least 10-12 pitchers, and can staff several nine inning games per week with no problem. I'm not so sure it is fair to hold most teams at this level to that same standard, though. So, I see no reason for leagues to feel pressure to play nine inning games all year. However, there is certainly a a big difference in a nine inning a game vs a 7 inning game. We have been in many 9 inning games over the last nine years where the results of the game have absolutely been determined in the 8th and 9th innings. So, players need to know that, and playing a few nine inning games before the postseason is a good idea so they can not only know it but also see it.

 


PA ALB


And finally, what are your views on the re-alignment of the national regional tournaments? All three teams from PA (including host Boyertown) will be playing in the Mid-Atlantic Tournament beginning this year.  Does your strategy as a coach change if you have to see the same team several times in different tournaments?                


Coach Manero


It is an interesting change, and I'm sure based mostly on economics. I think it's good for the growth and publicity of Legion baseball when it sends some teams to other parts of the country to play, and our experience in Appleton, WI in 2009 was hands down one of the best baseball experiences I have had as a player or coach, and our players were treated like kings by the people out there, as they deserved - since they are a great bunch to work with. So, not having that possibility is a bit disappointing, but the Mid-Atlantic Tourney is excellent, and the baseball in PA is so good that I think having three PA teams there this year will make it that much better. IF we are fortunate enough to see the same team in several different tournaments, that would mean we have a pretty good team that just needs to go out and focus on playing the game, regardless of the opponent.


We hope you've enjoyed reading!  We greatly appreciate Coach Manero taking time to answer our questions and we've hope you have enjoyed reading the interview!



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