This year marks the 25th season of Harrisburg Senators’ baseball returning to City Island. To commemorate the anniversary and honor all of the ballplayers that have played here for the last 25 years, I’ll be posting interviews throughout the season with members of each of those past teams.
We had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to talk with Brad Coon, centerfielder for last year’s squad. After starting the season with the Angels’ organization, Brad was a late addition to the Senators in April but quickly became a fan favorite with his level and style of play.
What are your fondest memories of playing here in Harrisburg?
Brad Coon: I have to say the quality fanbase. They consistently throughout the week no matter what day it was you’d always got a good fanbase and they were always behind you. It’s fun to play for fans that respect you even when you’re having tough times. Baseball is a tough sport. It’s great to have fans who understand the game and are in your corner regardless.
The Senators streaked to a 43-28 record the second-half of last season qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2002. What flipped the switch for you guys and made the difference?
BC: For me personally it was the coaching staff. We had one of the best staffs I’ve ever had in minor league baseball. Randy (Knorr), Randy (Tomlin) and Troy (Gingrich) – I think they are great communicators, great people when it comes to knowledge of the game and how they handle people. They never stressed. We had a tough first half and at one point we lost like ten in a row and Randy pulled us aside and said, “Hang in there…it’s going to turn around. Keep working hard. We’ll turn it around.” And that’s what we did. We started playing with less pressure, we knew we could just go out there and perform and let it all hang out. The coaching staff was great.
Randy Tomlin and Troy are back with the team this season, but Randy Knorr moved up to Triple-A Syracuse.
BC: In my whole career I would play for that guy anywhere I was. He was a good people person. It seems like sometimes you play for people that they almost forget what’s it like to be a player and what it’s like to go through tough times. Baseball is a hard sport especially day in and day out. On the offensive side, baseball is a game of failure. You have to learn how to deal with failure. Three out of ten times you hit and you’re a stud. It’s how you deal with the outs is what I think really makes you a complete player. Randy was very, very good about helping you and making you feel comfortable in there. He’d pull you aside and never get on you the wrong way, but having the right way to communicate with people. For me, I have never had a manager like that. A lot seem to forget what it’s like to be a player.
Last season, you were voted the Favorite Player of the Senators’ Fan Club. What does something like that mean to a guy that wasn’t even in the organization when spring training camp broke?
BC: It’s a character thing. When you have good fans that understand the game, they’re there in your corner. If you work hard, they’re going to respect that. That’s something I’ve done my whole career. I play as hard as I can, diving, hustling as much as I can…I think those really good fans that understand baseball respect that. I’m thinking that maybe that was the thing. I played centerfield and hit leadoff or wherever, giving everything I had, I think that’s what showed it.
Where are you now and how has this season gone so far?
BC: This year I’m playing with the Dodgers I’m at Double-A in the Southern League in Chattanooga and things are going great so far. I’m happy. I’m right around .290, .295 a bunch of walks so my on base percentage is good. I’m doing my job and that’s all I can do. My job is to get on base and set the table for the other guys. So far, so good. If I keep on this track, good things will be ahead.
Thanks to Mr. Coon for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions and be a part of the rich tradition of Senators baseball. We wish him all the best and continued success on his baseball journey.
We also wish to thank Pete Intza, the Director of Media Relations with the Chattanooga Lookouts for arranging the interview.