A chat with new Nationals special assistant Bob Schaefer
Bob Schaefer, the newest member of the Nationals front office, has coached, scouted and advised for major league teams for 30 of his 66 years. There is practically nothing in baseball he has not done. He played for Connecticut in the 1965 College World Series, twice managed the Kansas City Royals on an interim basis and ran the Boston Red Sox' farm system. He assisted John Schuerholz and Syd Thrift, got his post-playing start in the Cape Cod League and, for the past three seasons, shared a dugout with Joe Torre.
Schaefer never made it past Class A Modesto as a player, and so he still credits good luck for his start. After his playing career ended, he returned to Connecticut and taught school for 12 years in Norwich, not far from where he grew up. He passed his summers staying connected to the game by managing in the Cape Cod League. His teams did well enough to earn him notice, and eventually he had an offer to manage Class A Greensboro, then a New York Yankees affiliate. "I was fortunate to get that break," Schafer said.
He joined the Mets' system in 1982, going to work for a franchise that had gone 301-405 in the previous five years. "Four years later, we won the World Series," Schaefer said. "They did it the right way, and Mike [Rizzo] and his staff are doing it the right way."
That belief is one of the reasons Schaefer signed on with the Nationals. He's already been working for the team for a short time, and his position was made official today. I spoke to Schaefer this afternoon, and here's a brief except of the chat with Rizzo's new special assistant.
Q: How do you know Mike Rizzo, and how'd the job come about?
BS: "I coached for 12 years. Being that far away from home, I just thought it was time to do something else. Once Joe decided to leave, I'm best of friends with Don Mattingly, and I thought he should bring someone in who will be there more than one year at the most. I know Mike from the Red Sox. I've followed what he's done with the Nationals. They've got an up and coming team, and I just wanted to be part of it."
Q: What will your role be?
BS: "I'll scout the major leagues for trades and evaluate our own players in the minor leagues. Bounce around here and there. It's the same thing I did for Syd and Scheurholtz. At the end of the year, I'll watch for free agents."
Q: You've done a lot, worn a lot of hats in baseball. What was your favorite job?
BS: "I liked coaching in the big leagues when we won [laughs]. I ran the minor league system for the Red Sox. Thirteen guys who worked for me as coaches got to the big leagues. I liked working with them. I like the strategy of working with a GM and trying to put a team together. Managing in the minor leagues, that was a lot of fun. There really is no job I can say I didn't like. I left a few places when I saw an opportunity ahead of me. I went into scouting and ended up back in the big leagues as a coach. I was fortunate."
Q: What were your impressions these past years of watching the Nationals from the other dugout?
BS: "You really can't judge their progressing wins and losses. The big thing, I think they stayed the course with their young players. The fact that the ownership has committed the money to sign the two best amateur players in the country the past two years, that had a lot to do with me coming over. Because I had some other opportunities, too. I think they're doing the right thing, so the commitment is there and the baseball people are there."
| November 29, 2010; 4:55 PM ET
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