There is an old baseball adage that says "catchers make the best managers." So it should come as no surprise then that 11 of the current 30 managers in the MLB spent time behind the plate in their careers.
Catchers have the unique distinction of being involved in every play of the game, seeing the entire field from their vantage point and calling pitch selection and plays throughout the game. They know when their pitchers are laboring and when they might not have their best stuff. They act as a liaison between the players on the field and the umpire.
They are each team's "on-field manager."
But as you look a little deeper into the coaching staffs of Major League teams, you'll see that they are littered with former players -- not just catchers. In last year's ALCS, two of the four managers leading their respective teams were catchers. All four managers were former players.
New Tigers manager Brad Ausmus -- a former catcher -- has surrounded himself with good baseball minds, most of whom were former players in Major League Baseball. Let's take a look at the former players he has built into his staff.
Darnell Coles: assistant hitting coach
Darnell Coles played professional baseball from 1983 until 1997. He was a journeyman of sorts, playing for 10 different organizations during that time, eight of which were MLB teams. He spent 1995 with the Chunichi Dragons and 1997 with the Hanshin Tigers, both of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. Coles played for the Tigers during the 1986 and 1987 seasons, and then again in 1990.
His 1986 season with the Tigers was the best of his career, where he hit 20 home runs, had 86 RBI and batted .273. Never becoming the base stealer that his wiry frame would suggest, he did manage to steal a career-high six bases that season. He had a 2.0 oWAR that season.
Coles got his first chance as a coach in 2006 when he became the roving hitting instructor for the Washington Nationals. He then managed the Class-A Hagerstown Suns in 2008, also in the Nationals organization. In November of 2008, he was named the hitting coach for the Nationals Triple-A affiliate, Syracuse Chiefs.
Coles joined the Tigers staff as the assistant hitting coach to Wally Joyner in November of last year.
Wally Joyner: hitting coach
Wally Joyner is a former MLB first baseman, playing most notably for the California Angels. His career started off with a bang in 1986, hitting to a .290/.348/.457 triple slash line. He was second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Jose Canseco, and finished eighth in the MVP voting.
He quickly became a fan favorite with Angels fans who dubbed their home stadium Wally World. He was also voted in as the starting first baseman in the 1986 All-Star Game, becoming the first rookie to be voted into the All-Star Game by fans. Joyner entered the home run derby and tied Darryl Strawberry for first place.
On Aug. 20, 1986, Joyner broke up Walt Terrell's no-hitter by ripping a double with two out in the ninth.
Arguably his strongest season came the following year, in 1987, when Joyner hit .285 with 34 home runs and 117 RBI. After stops in Kansas City, San Diego (where he was a teammate of Ausmus) and Atlanta, Joyner retired with the Anaheim Angels in 2001.
In July of 2007, Joyner was hired by the San Diego Padres to be their hitting coach. From 2003 and 2007, Joyner acted as a roving minor league instructor for the Padres.
In 2012, Joyner joined the Philadelphia Phillies as their assistant hitting coach to new hitting coach Steve Henderson. When Ryne Sandberg replaced Charlie Manuel as manager, Joyner served as the team's first base coach.
On Nov. 18, 2013, the Tigers announced the hiring of Joyner as their hitting coach.
Jeff Jones: pitching coach
Jeff Jones pitched for the Oakland Athletics from 1980 to 1984. His career never amounted to anything substantial and he pitched almost entirely out of the bullpen. He compiled a 9–9 record and 8 saves with a 3.95 ERA, striking out 128 batters in 205 innings for his career. He also took the mound three times as a starting pitcher.
Jones, however, is much more well-known for his coaching résumé. He was named Detroit's pitching coach on July 3, 2011 -- his first time holding that position in Major League Baseball, despite having spent 37 seasons in professional baseball as a player and coach.
Jones had been the Tigers bullpen coach on five different occasions -- 1995, a month in 1998 and into 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2006.
Omar Vizquel: first-base coach/infield coach/baserunning coach
Where do I even begin in regard to Omar Vizquel's career?
Vizquel is a Hall of Fame worthy player. Having retired in 2012, he won't be eligible until the 2017 class, but I have very little doubt that he will be placed in Cooperstown among the game's greatest.
Vizquel started his career in 1989 with the Seattle Mariners. There was little notoriety to his first few seasons there. He was a light-hitting shortstop with decent speed and a good glove. In 1993, he would win his first Gold Glove award with the Mariners, but at the end of that season he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. It was in Cleveland that his career took off.
From 1994 to 2001 Vizquel would win eight consecutive Gold Gloves with the Indians. He played in Cleveland until 2004, being selected as an All-Star three times and garnering MVP consideration in 1999. Vizquel stole 20 or more bases eight times and played in two World Series.
Vizquel would go on to win two more Gold Glove awards with the San Francisco Giants after leaving Cleveland.
On Jan. 30, 2013, Vizquel was hired by the Los Angeles Angels to become an infield coach. This was his first foray into coaching. After the season, the Tigers named Vizquel their new first-base coach, replacing Rafael Belliard. Vizquel's duties also include infield instruction and baserunning coach.
Dave Clark: third-base coach
Dave Clark made his Major League debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1986. For his career, Clark batted .264 with 62 home runs and 284 RBI scattered over 12 seasons. His best season was with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993, when he batted .271 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI. He had a 1.3 oWAR.
Clark's first coaching job came with the Pirates organization in 2000. He was hired as the hitting coach for their rookie club, the Gulf Coast League Pirates, but by the end of the season he was promoted to the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds. The following season, he was the hitting coach for the Pirates at the major league level.
In 2005 the Houston Astros offered him the opportunity to coach their Double-A team. Clark managed for three season with the Corpus Christi Hooks, leading them to a Texas League Championship in 2006.
When the Astros decided to name Brad Mills as their new manager, Clark stayed on to serve as the first-base coach through the 2013 season.
Gene Lamont: bench coach
Good ol' Gene Lamont. First person to post a GIF in the comments of his waving arm gets an immediate rec.
Lamont's résumé is extensive, but his experience as a player is not. He played a total of 87 games as a Major Leaguer with the Tigers in parts of 1970 to 1972 and then again from 1974 to 1975. He was an extremely light-hitting catcher with four career home runs and a .233 career batting average.
From 1977 to 1978, Lamont managed the Single-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, and then moved on to the Double-A Jacksonville Suns. He guided the Suns to championships in 1982 and 1983. During the 1982 season he was named Manager of the Year.
Lamont got his start in the Majors in 1986 as Jim Leyland's third-base coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He became close friends with Leyland, and would remain in that position until he was offered the manager's position with the Chicago White Sox in 1992. That year, the White Sox finished with a record of 86-76, third in the American League's Western Division. The following year the White Sox finished 94-68 under for a division title for the first time since they won 99 games in 1983.
Lamont was fired in 1995 after the team started off with a record of 11-20. He would return to the Pirates and coach with his old friend Leyland, again. When Leyland left the Pirates after the 1996 season to manage the Florida Marlins, Lamont was named the manager. He was fired after the 2000 season.
When Leyland was named the manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2006, Lamont returned to coach with him once again. He was the Tigers third-base coach until last season, when he was replaced by Tom Brookens. He moved to the bench and still holds that position under Brad Ausmus.