Baseball: Q-and-A with Bart Zeller, Slammers manager
August 30, 2012 8:34PM
Joliet Slammers manager Bart Zeller jokes around with players during media day at Silver Cross Field on Wednesday. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:39PM
Zeller was named 2011 Frontier League Manager of the Year after directing the Slammers to the title in their first season. He coached in several independent leagues after playing and coaching in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
What do you like most about managing?
The thing I really enjoy most is working with the young kids, just coming to the park every day and seeing their passion for the game and their commitment. It just inspires me. In the wintertime I work out all the time so I’ll be able to throw batting practice.
How difficult has this season been?
I don’t think the season has been difficult. The season has been very frustrating and disappointing. We had very high expectations coming in. We thought we had a much stronger ballclub. Some things happened that were beyond our control.
How do you take your mind off it?
I don’t. I try to work harder. I try to spend more time looking at numbers and statistics. With Piggy (pitching coach Carmen Pignatiello) and Ron (Biga), work with players that might be struggling. If you ever get to a point where you dread going to the ballpark, you might as well go home and bury your head in the sand.
Where do you live in the offseason?
Scottsdale, Ariz. I spend a great deal of time visiting winter leagues and spring training sites to learn new spring training techniques and see what ballplayers might be available. The work doesn’t stop at the end of the season. It’s all year long and that’s why I love it.
Favorite major league team?
It would have to be the Cardinals, the club I signed with. I have a very, very fond place in my heart for them and their organization.
Favorite sport to watch besides baseball?
It’s golf. Since I started really playing the game, I admire and respect greatly the golfers who can play at such a high level week after week.
Favorite golf courses in the Chicago area?
I’ve been able to play Prestwick and Dubsdread (at Cog Hill) and Seven Bridges. Those are three courses that come to mind.
Probably barbecuing out. Chicken, love to do that.
Do you know what you’ll be doing next year?
I have a handshake agreement with the Joliet Slammers. They have not given me any indication whether I’d be back or not. I really want to be back to put a winning team together. I really want that opportunity.
As told to Tim Tierney