TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton’s first managerial job at age 29 was unlike any other in the rookie leagues — New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, was a regular at his home games.
Talk about learning to handle pressure.
Shelton’s opportunity came in 2000 with the Gulf Coast League team the Yankees, who played games at the New York Minor League Complex in Tampa, Florida. It was about a mile from “The Boss” and his office on the fourth floor of the Yankees’ spring training stadium.
Sitting in the third base dugout at Steinbrenner Field ahead of Sunday’s exhibition game against the Yankees, Shelton grinned when asked if Steinbrenner’s regular presence at the time helped him today. .
“Yes, 100%,” he said.
Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, focused on winning at all levels of his organization.
The big league Yankees in 2000 would win their third consecutive World Series and their fourth in five years under the management of Joe Torre, the Shelton team did their part, going 38-22 to win the North Division by four games against the GCL Pirates.
Shelton also credited former Yankees vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman, who was based in Tampa, for his development.
“I think the one thing a lot of people don’t realize is that there were a lot of major league coaches, major league managers, who came out of that system since I got the job. opportunity to start here,” Shelton said. “I tell people all the time, the fact that Mr. Steinbrenner was there as much as he was, was that difficult? Yes. Has it made us better every day? Yes. The attention to detail that you had to pay as a rookie prom manager because you knew he was here…made me a better person. It made me more detailed, and it definitely made me a better coach. It paid off in the long run. »
Shelton is entering his third season with Pittsburgh, and while much work remains after the Pirates went 19-41 in 2020 and 61-101 last year, he saw one of Steinbrenner’s important traits on the ground prevail.
“I think the one thing that can always be said about our band is that they play hard every day,” Shelton said.
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