Two weeks after the Xenia Scouts’ 2014 Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League baseball season ended, former Major League player and 2014 Scouts manager Bobby Randall fielded questions from sports editor John Bombatch on the team’s exciting season. The franchise hosted the GLSCL All-Star Game, held a scouting combine for several Major League scouts, and finished third in the regular season out of nine teams with a 21-19 record.
QUESTION: What would you say were some of the best parts of the Xenia Scouts 2014 season for you as the team’s manager?
ANSWER: The best parts were the men I worked with and the players I coached. (General Manager) John Henschen took care of all the details wonderfully to allow us to work with the team, and (Assistant Coach) Matt Richter was really the glue handling all the pitching responsibilities, which was our biggest challenge. And he worked a miracle since we were so shorthanded pitching wise. (Assistant Coach) Taylor Hargrove was a tremendous servant to fill in all the gaps needed and do it so well. Both Matt and Taylor threw batting practice practically every day, which was a load since we had so many hitters.
I always am uplifted by the spiritual values we are organized by and put into practice. These were our foundation of success from the staff to the players.
One of the other highlights was a five-game stretch where we played complete, excellent baseball, which gave us a standard to keep striving for. The other was a losing streak of seven or eight games where we kept battling to win. Sometimes it feels like you will never lose and other times you feel as if you will never win.
Q: You had said early on in the season that you weren’t sure what to expect from the players, but that you saw how hard they were willing to work to improve over their summer. Can you give an example or two of how hard some of the players worked?
A: There are not many things that can be controlled, but three of them are: 1. ATTITUDE 2. PREPARATION 3. EFFORT. Our coaches and players were great examples of all three of these and contributed to our winning season. I cannot pick out one or two players, because it was a total effort by everyone. One of our themes was “A HARD 90 EVERY TIME.”
Q: You’ve coached at the college and professional levels of the sport. Does the 2014 Xenia Scouts team have any similarities to other teams you’ve coached?
A: This year’s team was certainly one to remember for their relentless effort and their excellent attitude. This is the first time in my coaching career that we played two lineups and alternated them daily. Rarely was there anyone pouting because they were not in the lineup every day. Also, we used pinch hitters quite often, and they learned to accept being pinch hit for. We did develop a servant attitude.
Q: The team slowly began to grow its fan base as the season wore on. Would you like to say anything to the fans who did come out to watch the team play?
A: Thanks to the fans who supported us. What a joy when we won our last (home) game on a walk off hit. The reaction from our fans just added to it.
Q: What is it like to work for a sports institution such as Athletes In Action, and what was that experience like for you?
A: I truly enjoy coaching for AIA, because of their values, It is probably the only place I would coach. Each time I have coached for AIA, I have come away knowing that eternal values have been emphasized and imparted to the young men. Life changing. This Christ-centered approach makes the baseball so enjoyable.
Q: How will you remember the 2014 Xenia Scouts team?
A: I will remember the coaches and players of this Summer’s team fondly, because of their heart and effort. No one ever gave up or gave in. It was a special bond with everyone and we had a lot of fun as well.
Q: You spent the Summer in Xenia. What were some of your favorite experiences while being here, and what are your thoughts of this area?
A: Our family loved Xenia. The small-town atmosphere and the people we met, and the church we attended. One of the young ladies who works for AIA, Katie Campbell, was a friend from my time at the University of Kansas. She lived across the street from us. It was great to see her again. And we loved the AIA campus and the beautiful field where we played our home games.
Q: The summer season is over. What do you do when you’re not managing the Xenia Scouts?
A: I am an adjunct instructor on Economics and Statistics at Manhattan Christian College in Manhattan, Kansas.
Q: Will you be returning as the Scouts’ manager next season? If not, what are your plans for the future?
A: Coaching in the summer is a big commitment for me and my family so there are two parts to that question: First, to be asked to do it again. Often, with the travel, I thought a younger coach could be a big advantage in a lot of ways. And second, if it is good for my family, that’s always my first consideration.
(John Bombatch is sports editor for Greene County Newspapers.)