It seemed like a no-brainer out of loyalty, if nothing else.
Ken Oberkfell, who has managed the Mets’ Triple-A team for most of the last six years, will get a chance to interview for the opening with the big-league team.
Oberkfell has certainly paid all of his dues. He was Baseball America’s Minor League Manager of the Year in 2005. He’s managed the Mets’ Triple-A franchise through stops in Norfolk, New Orleans and Buffalo, with the only interruption coming when he became the team’s major league first-base coach for a spell in 2008 after Willie Randolph was fired as manager.
He’s even managing at this very moment. The interview will take place in the Dominican Republic because he’s trying to lead the Leones del Escogido to a second straight DWL championship.
A 16-year major leaguer, Oberkfell hit .278/.351/.362 with six clubs between 1977 and 1992. He had little power, but he amassed a 356/546 K/BB ratio in 4,874 career at-bats.
Oberkfell will be the seventh candidate interviewed by the Mets, joining fellow team employees Wally Backman, Terry Collins, Chip Hale, Dave Jauss and Bob Melvin and Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale. Still on tap are Clint Hurdle and Don Wakamatsu.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.