If you’ve listened regularly to Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s press conferences through the years, you know there are certain things he says, well, repeatedly.
There are also common themes he often hits on: Like how long he has been in the game, how old he often feels and how the players help him feel young – or not too much of a geezer, anyway.
Well, he hit a geezer milestone today – turning age 60 on the Orioles’ off day in Houston. I’m sure the players will have fun with that. Some did when I chatted with them about it last week.
For some managers, maybe there’s a concern that advancing age can lead to a disconnect with the players, especially considering the constant, 24-7 nature of today’s game.
Consider that the greatest manager in modern Orioles’ history, Earl Weaver, initially quit at age 52 and retired for good at age 56. He had had enough of the unrelenting pace.
But you believe Showalter when he says guys like 23-year-old Manny Machado and 24-year-old Jonathan Schoop keep him young.
Showalter makes a point of staying connected in the lives of his players. He knows their wives, he interacts with their children and he’s often in the clubhouse talking up his players and asking about things that pique his curiosity. And he all know how curious he is.
“He stays engaged in things. He’s always coming in here, talking to guys, asking guys things,” closer Zach Britton said. “Kind of finding out about new stuff, whether it’s getting a new speaker system or hearing new music and asking questions, or watching us riding the little scooter things around. He’s just engaged in the new stuff that younger players like these days.”
Center fielder Adam Jones, the longest tenured Oriole, has often said that the respect for Showalter began Day One when he took over the team in August 2010. Showalter made a point of talking with each player, and detailing what was expected. And with that, Jones said, there was instant accountability.
Showalter had managed three other teams, and never lasted longer than four seasons with any of those. He’s in his sixth season with the Orioles – fifth full year – and has the fifth longest tenure of any manager with his current team in baseball.
He joins six other active managers that are 60 or older. So he’s not alone in that age bracket. And only three active managers, Bruce Bochy, Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia, have more all-time wins than Showalter’s 1366, which is 30th all-time.
Part of that success is preparedness and attention to detail, no doubt. But he also has the ability to connect with his players as people, and that’s been obvious during his tenure in Baltimore – one that has carried him from his mid-50s now into his 60s.
“He’s gonna hate me for saying this. He’s about the same age as probably most of our dads, or a little older, though my dad’s older than him,” Britton said. “I think maybe over the years all the experiences kind of came together for him here. He’s found a place where it fits … ownership, Peter Angelos, has given him the opportunity to be here for a long time and let him do his thing and let him be himself. I think that’s the biggest thing. He does things a lot different than other managers in the game, you can see it. But it works; it works for us. People buy into it.”