MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Lachemann prepares for first spring home in 53 years

Lachemann prepares for first spring home in 53 years

For the first time in 53 years, Rene Lachemann will be at home when Spring Training camps open.

Lachemann has worked as a player, coach or manager every year since beginning his pro career by playing in the Kansas City A's organization at the age of 19.

Lachemann began his post-playing career by managing in the Minor Leagues with the A's. He later joined the expansion Seattle Mariners, with whom he eventually made his big league managerial debut, replacing Maury Wills in May 1981.

Lachemann also managed the Milwaukee Brewers for one season, and he was the first skipper of the expansion Florida Marlins. A Minor League roommate of Tony La Russa, Lachemann coached for La Russa with both the A's and Cardinals. He also was on the staff of his former Minor League manager, John McNamara, with the Red Sox.

Lachemann also served as a big league coach with the Cubs, Mariners and, most recently, the Rockies.

MLB IRL: Rene Lachemann

Before being added to Walt Weiss' staff in Colorado, Lachemann had returned to the Minor Leagues for five years as the hitting coach with the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate, then in Colorado Springs.

Lachemann discussed his upcoming first spring at home in this week's Q&A:

MLB.com: Does it feel strange to not be going to Spring Training?

Lachemann: I have to get my head together on all of this. Everything does come to an end, but I didn't want to just hang it up. It's hard to walk away. It's not about money. People will say, "You can enjoy retirement." I didn't work for retirement. I wasn't a guy working 9-to-5. I've been living a dream. I played in the Major Leagues. I managed in the Major Leagues. I was a part of a coaching staff that went to four World Series.

MLB.com: That includes the A's in 1988, '89 and '90, but also the Red Sox in '86. Any of those stand out?

Lachemann: '86 was a great year. It was my first time in a World Series. It was a highlight and lowlight of my career. We rallied from losing three of the first four games to win the AL Championship Series, and then had a 3-2 lead in the World Series before the Mets rallied to become world champions.

MLB.com: I would assume 1989 was pretty big, too?

Lachemann: Nothing compares to winning a World Series. When you are a kid, playing in the backyard, that's what you dream about. I was a coach, not a player, on that team, but it was still a thrill.

MLB.com: Do you consider baseball a family thing?

Lachemann: Yeah. My two brothers are still in the game. Billy is 82 and Marcel is 75. They are working with the Angels. Billy still has his catching gear on every day. We have a love for the game. It has been our life.

MLB.com: That would seem to be underscored by the fact that in 2008, you went back to the Minor Leagues for the first time in 30 years to be a hitting coach at Colorado Springs.

Lachemann: I wanted to stay in the game, and that was the opportunity I had. It was enjoyable. I got to work with a lot of young players and feel like I helped them on their way. I wasn't down there waiting for a big league opportunity. I had my time in the big leagues as a coach and manager, and two years as a player. If it wasn't going to be any more, it wasn't a big deal. I just welcomed the chance to stay in the game.

MLB.com: Is that what makes this spring a challenge?

Lachemann: I still care about the game and love being a part of it. But all things come to an end. What upsets you is when you don't get a response to your calls. I know when I got the manager's job in Florida, I had more than 300 calls. I called guys back and they appreciated it. Some guys, like Davey Johnson, I told them they were better qualified to manage than I was, and I respected their knowledge, but I didn't have anything for them. They respected that. I do live in the Phoenix area, so that's good and bad. I can see guys, spend some time with them.

MLB.com: After a semester at USC, you decided to sign a pro contract. What was behind that?

Lachemann: It was the last year before the Draft, where you could sign with any team. I wanted to get out and start to play. The A's signed me and gave me a $45,000 signing bonus.

MLB.com: That was quite a group with those A's of the late '60s.

Lachemann: I was in the bullpen with Satchel Paige. I caught him when he was warming up. I [played] the game at catcher when Bert Campaneris became the first player to play all nine positions in a game. One of our coaches was Gabby Hartnett, who was the catcher for the Cubs [in the 1932 World Series] when Babe Ruth hit the called shot.

MLB.com: Did Babe really call the home run?

Lachemann: Gabby told me what happened, but told me I could never tell anybody. He said he never told anyone else. I told him I would never say a word.

MLB.com: But when you die, the answer of Ruth's called shot will go with you.

Lachemann: That's the way Gabby wanted it. That's the way it will be.

MLB.com: Your playing career ended at the age of 27. Was that difficult?

Lachemann: [A's owner] Charlie Finley called me in and said he had a job managing in the Minor Leagues. I told him I wanted to keep playing. Charlie told me the job was managing. I got the message.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Write 'em Cowboy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.