baseball is back:
Q&A with baseball coaches on the 2017 season
By Danny Torres ’84
Prior to a scheduled road trip to Rhode Island, I got to sit down with JV Baseball Coach Brother William Sherlog and Varsity Baseball Coach Orlando Encarnacion to discuss all things baseball at Hayes.
After Hayes, you played minor league baseball. You went through the Mets system and the Independent League. What was the experience like? How have you been able to translate it to what you do with the young men on the team?
Encarnacion: The experience was great! I don’t regret it one bit. Coming out of high school there were a few people that wanted me to go to college instead. It was a tough one to decide on. Again, playing baseball was my dream. I enjoyed it. I met a lot of people. I learned a lot. I go paid to a certain extent for doing what I love doing. Once I retired and came back to Hayes I tried to do similar things to what I did in the minor leagues with the kids. I try to teach them certain things so when they get to that next level they will recognize right way or adjust.
Now baseball is a game of life lessons. What kind of life lessons do you try to instill and teach these young men?
Encarnacion: Love it. Respect it. Respect your teammates and your counterparts. [Respect] the game. Be responsible. Grow up from it. You know if you’re going to play the game again do it the right way. Give 100% at all times. You have to commit yourself to the whole season. It’s not just a part-time job. Brother Sherlog: I think the baseball diamond is a great classroom for kids. It’s where you really learn life lessons. How to deal with failure. How to learn self-control. How to dig down deep inside and bring out your best when everything around you is going the worst. Those are the life lessons. And I think there are many Hayes baseball players who’ve carried those lessons into the professional world. Those are the things we want the kids to walk away with.
Obviously, fundamentals are everything in sports and this game. What are some of the little things you stress with your ballplayers?
Encarnacion: Trust. One thing at a time. Catch the ball. Throw the ball. Let’s see the ball. Let’s try to hit the ball. Run the bases properly. Know what’s going on at any time. What helps a lot too is if you’re just watching the game and not playing
or the outfield you should be watching and moving. In every situation, you should be moving somewhere. And it helps. Something that has changed a little bit in our program here is we’re getting more kids who want to play the game who are a little more respectful towards it. Brother Sherlog: The game is changing. I was listening yesterday to the WFAN and they said, “The game our fathers played is not the game being played today.” I still think baseball is a game of confidence. Not enthusiasm. And our young men in their drive to win go too much into enthusiasm and lack confidence. For Hayes Baseball, we’ve been competitive but we’ve not been in the hunt for the chip in a while now. And we’re trying to find that killer instinct that is needed to get through tough games. We don’t have that quite yet. We feel we’re edging closer to it. Once we get there we will be alright.
Orlando, you have a good balance of veteran leadership and youth. What are your expectations for this season? What are you holding your ballplayers to? What do you expect from them?
Encarnacion: Playoffs. They expect nothing less than the playoffs themselves. You know last year we had a tough season, especially varsity. Things didn’t work out. Some key pieces weren’t there all year around. This year the chemistry is great. Some of the seniors are kind of taking the younger kids under their wing a little bit. They’re teaching them here and there what to do. We haven’t been able to play one game yet. And that might be the best thing that’s happened to us. Which might be good because we might be a little hungrier coming out. But I like what I see. From the Fall season to now there’s been a lot of improvement. They want it more. They’re more motivated. Brother Sherlog: We have a talented group of freshmen. This is probably the strongest looking JV team we’ve had in a while. So, if they can stay out of trouble, detention and pass their subjects. That’s one of the challenges. We have a good number of baseball players who live in the world between 65 and 72 so at any given time they are a step away from academic peril. And that always impacts.
Earlier you both alluded to the game has changed. What are some of your thoughts on these changes? Brother Sherlog: I think baseball is trying to catch up with the speed of American entertainment. Fast paced. Lots of action. Everyone knows we rather see a 10-9 game than a 1-0 game. It’s a game that’s offensively driven. All these rules about pitch count. The intentional walk rule. It’s all meant to speed up the game. I’m waiting for instant replay to come to the high school level. I think we’re going to see it. I’m just watching the way games, especially basketball and football, are being streamlined. We’re close to this.
Encarnacion: I understand the intentional walk one. It kind of makes a little sense. Everything else I don’t like. You see in some of the spring training games once the inning is over there’s a clock on the side. It’s almost like you’re rushing everyone to do everything and it’s not happening on its own. Now you rush a little bit and it’s going to be touch for these guys to get comfortable.
Brother Sherlog what is one of your fondest memories of coaching at Hayes? Brother Sherlog: One of the stories and it’s a true story is we’re playing up at The Mount. We beat The Mount. And George Martinez was a young man who was our pitcher. He was a kid who played baseball with no pressure. He used to tell kids, “There’s no pressure here. This is a game. This isn’t life.” He’s out there and we need an out to win the game. And he’s pitching. Its bases loaded. We need an out. I walked out on the mound and said, “George I have $75 in my back pocket. Win or lose the whole team we’re going to lunch after the game. So, either way it’s all good.” So, I turn around and walk back and he comes off he hill and says, “Everybody! We’re going to lunch!Brother’s buying us lunch!” We win the game. He throws strike three to win the game.
Orlando what is one of your fondest memories of being a player at Hayes? Encarnacion: Playing in the all-star game at Yankee Stadium my senior year. Throwing two innings on that mound. Hitting a triple to right center. You know those were good memories.