Spend any amount of time with new Harrisburg Senators’ manager Tony Beasley and you’ll understand why teams were lined up to hire the soft-spoken Virginia native this off-season. The words he uses to depict those qualities he admires in others are the same ones he personifies: honest, straight-forward, consistent, professional. Another word to describe Beasley that he uses a lot is “successful” and although his teams qualified for the playoffs in all five seasons he managed, he isn’t just talking about winning ballgames. He wants his team to play the “right way” with hustle and effort. He empowers his players to be accountable and responsible.
With a mere 75 days before Opening Day, the Senators formally introduced Beasley yesterday during a press conference at Metro Bank Park. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend and get some one-on-one time with the new skipper for a few questions.
What did you glean from your time on the Major League staffs of Frank Robinson and John Russell that you are bringing to the managerial table now?
Tony Beasley: I don’t know if there’s any one thing per se that I can put my finger on. Frank and John are two totally different guys with different styles. Frank was more take charge and in your face and John was more laid back. But both of them are very good baseball men. I’ve always watched and managed along with the manager in my mind to see how they handled the personnel and tried to put guys in situations to be successful. Frank was a little different because he didn’t believe in going with the grain all the time. He would go against the grain quite a bit, he would go off of feel or a hunch. If it felt like it was the right thing to do then he would do it at the time whether it was the norm as far as the game would say. You could see it working out some times. And I believe in that. I believe that you have to manage to your personnel. Your personnel might dictate not doing something by the book that night. You might not have that depth in the bullpen that night so you may say, “We’re playing to win the ballgame right now. We’re not playing for a tie or to get into extra innings. We need to go for it.” Whatever the situation may be, he was good at adapting to that. John was good with using what he had and getting the most of it. I thought John did an outstanding job. He went through a tough transition where he was really tearing the organization down and trying to build it back up. I kind of felt bad for John, but he did a nice job.
When you managed there, the fans in Williamsport used to call the exciting brand of baseball your teams played Beas-ball. What does that exactly mean and can we expect the same thing here in Harrisburg?
Tony Beasley: I never got a definition of what that was. But they started that in Williamsport…Beas-ball. I don’t know if it was the way that we played. But one thing about me I believe in playing the game hard every day. I tell players from Day One, “You won’t have any problems with me unless you don’t play hard. If you can’t run a ball out then we’re going to have some issues. No doubt about it and I’m not afraid to sit you.” I’m not a yeller, I’m not a screamer. When the time calls for it, I can do it but that’s not my persona. I’m honest and straightforward. I don’t believe in telling them what they want to hear. I believe in telling them the truth and giving them the opportunity to have the ball and run with it. I always give them the ball first and tell them, “These are the expectations. You guys have the ball, don’t drop it. I choose to be nice and to really try to help you guys along, but if you force me I can be whatever I need to be to make sure the end result is what it should be.” That’s just how I do it. Someone asked earlier what my managerial style was…there’s no style. Whatever is going to give us an opportunity to be successful then we have to do that. I think when managers have a style that puts limitations on themselves. I wouldn’t do that because my style has to get the most out of 23 guys and whatever their makeup is and whatever their talent level is. If it’s speed, if it’s power, whatever our attributes are we have to manage accordingly. If my team dictates stealing bases to score runs, if it dictates we’re a hit-and-run team, if it dictates we’re a power team and we have to slow down the running game. Whatever the personnel dictates we’ve got to do that. If we need to be a pitching and defensive team and manufacture runs, then that’s what we have to do. Because each player has to play according to who they’re going to be at the major league level. It wouldn’t be fair for me to say, “This is what I like.”
What does it mean to be reunited with your old college teammate, Senators’ pitching coach Randy Tomlin?
Tony Beasley: That’s a joy and to be honest with you I never thought about it early in the process when Doug (Harris) and I were talking and then later to realize that Randy would be the pitching coach here. To have a guy like Randy that I’ve known…we have a lot of history, good history…to be able to work together at this level of the game with someone you played college ball with is rare. But I cherish this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it. We talked on the phone. He called right away. He’s excited. I’m excited. It’s going to be a good thing because at the minor league level you don’t get to choose your staff and one thing about staff is that they can make your summer fun or it can be miserable. If staffs don’t click and they don’t get along and they don’t communicate well, it can make for a really long summer. So I think I’m very fortunate to have Randy and I can trust Randy. I know he’s trustworthy. I know he’s honest and open. I know we can communicate openly to each other whether we disagree or agree. From what I’ve heard about Troy (Gingrich), it’s the same thing. So I’m really ecstatic about being with those two guys that I’m going to be rubbing shoulders with on the field and knowing that the three of us are going to have a great connection. I truly believe that. I think that’s where it starts. On the staff, If we’re unified then we have a chance to reach the players and I think we have that in place.
Thanks for your time and good luck on the upcoming season.