It is so cliche, but I’m a believer. What is meant to be will be. I’m always interested to see how life unfolds like a flower, to answer questions about why certain things have happened in life. Sometimes it’s a simple thing.
But sometimes the mystery unfolds much slower. For many years, I grieved the fact that my husband couldn’t spend his entire career in Cleveland. I thought if there were ever the type of person who would be a great “lifer,” Jim fit the mold. He is loyal, hard working, philanthropic; everything I know people from my hometown to be. So why did he end up being something of a journeyman? I think the answer is unfolding to us now.
With every new team, came new perspective. In Philadelphia, Jim played under a fiery Larry Bowa, a much different style of manager than he was used to in the congenial Mike Hargrove. He also played in a much different environment. Fans on the east coast are intense; so are the media. No one treats you with kid gloves in the city of brotherly love, yet Jim found a way to navigate and have a wonderful experience in a city known to have high expectations of players. Jim also had the chance to reunite with his mentor and one of his earliest teachers, Charlie Manual, in Philly. I really believe that they helped each other to grow into their new respective roles in the game.
Just as we got comfortable in Philly, it was time to go “home” to Chicago to play for Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox. Ozzie was the most flamboyant manager Jim had played under to date, but no one was more passionate about protecting his players than Ozzie. As a former Chicago player himself, he understood exactly what the city and management expected, and he delivered.
Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers were next. It was a short stint, but Jim soaked up every minute he had with Torre, whose experience speaks for itself. That time with the Dodgers was kind of a “crash course.”
Next up: the Minnesota Twins and the laid back style of Ron Gardenhire. One of the nicest men in baseball, these were some of our happiest years in baseball. The teammates really liked and respected each other, and it was obvious they were having fun on the field. The way Gardenhire let the clubhouse be loose kept the players relaxed and ready to go. We loved our time in the Twin Cities, and have always said we could easily live in that city full time.
After a brief trip back to Philly, it was time to finish up the playing days in Baltimore, under the measured and methodical leadership of Buck Showalter. Jim really enjoyed his time with Buck, and loved how he ran his team. By this time, Jim realized how lucky he was to have had the opportunity to play under so many great and diverse managers.
As we sit now, we have had many people asking us what Jim’s future plans are in baseball. He is so blessed to have the opportunity now, thanks to Jerry Reinsdorf, his good friend and mentor in the game, to work in the front office of the Chicago White Sox. This experience has helped to shape him. Maybe I’m biased, but I think my husband would make the most excellent manager. He certainly has had a very unique “apprenticeship;” one he wouldn’t have had if he had played for only one team or manager for his entire career.
He has so much knowledge and experience, and I know he would bring such an amazing work ethic to any team lucky enough to land him. When he played, he was always the first player to arrive at the ballpark, and the last to leave after midnight. I can’t wait to watch him instill that same work ethic into the players he might someday lead. People ask us all the time about the rumors that he is being considered for certain managerial positions. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
If it is meant to be…it will be.