It was April 23, 1997. A dreary night inside a lodge foyer in northeast Wichita, Kansas, when Dave Snow summoned his staff.
What adopted inside that landmark assembly floor on the outskirts of the Shockers’ campus has turn out to be Long Beach State baseball folklore. It’s the Brandon Hyde story his former teammates retell. A watershed second for the long run Orioles skipper who helped pilot one of many best regular-season turnarounds in Major League Baseball, good for AL Manager of the Year finalist recognition.
Snow, a veteran baseball coach at Long Beach then in his ninth season, simply watched the No. 17 Dirtbags drop back-to-back video games in as many days to the Twentieth-ranked staff within the nation. They have been 27-18 and fading. Snow was befuddled. He may really feel the threads that stitched the group collectively slowly unraveling.
When a Wichita State base runner stole second earlier within the day and no one was there to cowl, the throw sailed into middle subject. One instance of a pricey miscommunication turned on-field disagreement that escalated towards a near-physical altercation within the dugout.
“We were struggling,” catcher Jon Strauss mentioned of the 14-3 shellacking and 6-5 loss. “We had some issues. Guys weren’t on the same page. Things just weren’t going well.”
Snow was atypically short-spoken in that lodge foyer. He put the onus on his gamers. There was a quick, nonetheless second. Hyde, a fifth-year catcher whose lack of taking part in time and reserved repute didn’t make him the apparent selection, provided to talk.
Based on the collective reminiscence of a number of Dirtbags current that spring day 26 years in the past, Hyde’s speech went one thing like this:
You guys don’t know the way fortunate you’re. I come to observe day-after-day such as you guys. I don’t complain about it. There’s different folks round right here that don’t complain about it. They come out right here, they help you. And you guys don’t wanna work. You don’t perceive the alternatives you’ve got. Yeah, we misplaced tonight. But don’t let that be an OK feeling.
Listen, this could possibly be our final probability this season. For a few of us, our final probability ever. You have a chance to do one thing. What I do each summer season is I work development. I do stuff. I don’t get to do what you guys do [play baseball]. I do development and are available again right here. After this [season], I’m accomplished. I’ll most likely do handbook labor without end. I’m gonna inform you one thing. Work is a—. I don’t need to go work an actual job. I need to hold doing this and have enjoyable with you guys.
“It was like a mic drop,” former infielder Mike Stembridge remembers. “He just sat down. And there was nothing uncomfortable or uneasy about it. It was kind of like, ‘Yeah someone had to say it.’ … It sure showed that he had leadership qualities and he had that ability to lead men well before anyone realized that’s where his path was going.”
“That was the thing that always stood out because he wasn’t a big speech guy,” added Jaron Madison, a former Dirtbags outfielder now a particular assistant to the Chicago Cubs’ president and normal supervisor. “But he got his point across in as few words as possible and guys respected him.”
When Hyde speaks, even now, there’s no grandiosity in his voice. No bodily exuberance. His effectiveness comes throughout within the low-baritone supply and barrel-chested stature he’s had since school.
In Wichita in 1997, the right-the-ship monologue sparked six straight wins. The Dirtbags cruised by means of New Mexico State, No. 25 Cal State Northbridge and UC Santa Barbara, ultimately ending atop their convention with an total report of 39-26 and incomes a berth to the NCAA Tournament Regionals at LSU.
Hyde’s most memorable second in two years with the Dirtbags (1996-97) was unequivocally the lodge foyer speech. But his shining contribution on the sphere got here towards Oklahoma within the first spherical of the 1997 postseason.
Marcus Jones pitched a two-hit shutout whereas Hyde blasted a homer that Jones remembers “might’ve put a hole in the LSU scoreboard” in a 1-0 win. The Dirtbags misplaced to South Alabama within the subsequent spherical however charged out of the double-elimination loser’s bracket, later falling to LSU, the eventual champs, within the regional semifinal.
‘Understand the mentality’
Former gamers discuss concerning the Dirtbags with a sure reverence, reverse its colloquial connotation. They put on the identify like a badge of honor. It’s indicative of a hard-nosed model of play regardless of its perplexing nature.
The identify traces to 1989, Snow’s first season teaching a staff that higher resembled the “Bad News Bears.”
In these early years, Long Beach State practiced at close by Whaley Park, an all-dirt infield the place barren soil left dogged gamers overwhelmed, bruised and sullied. Assistant coach Dave Malpass nicknamed it Dirtbag Field. The beforehand named 49ers completed 14-45 in 1988. A yr later, amidst a exceptional turnaround to 50-15, their newly fashioned repute had been born.
Snow had a knack for recruiting guys with some callus. A band of misfits, as Madison known as them. The rough-around-the-edges sorts who perhaps didn’t see as many high-profile affords to suit the Dirtbag manner.
Like Hyde, who took the junior school route in his hometown of Santa Rosa then jumped to St. Mary’s College of California earlier than strolling on at Long Beach in 1996. To hold his baseball dream afloat, he labored summers in development again dwelling. Hyde even spent his redshirt season as a part-time bouncer at Acapulco Inn, the campus’ native watering gap, to make a number of additional bucks.
That was the mildew of a Dirtbag — the groomed and extremely touted needn’t apply.
“It was because of the grit that those guys showed [in 1989] and the willingness to do whatever it took to get work in,” Jones mentioned. “It’s like living up to them and what they had to do to survive.”
There was an ordinary that wanted to be met.
First baseman Jeff Tagliaferri remembers sure practices working properly into the night time. There, they’d repeat drills within the darkness till getting it proper. Snow used to additionally hand out clean hats with shorts and sneakers on the primary day of observe for them to work out in. That was a long-standing customized requiring gamers yr after yr to exemplify what it meant to be a Dirtbag earlier than rewarding them with the moniker.
“You start to understand the mentality of it,” he mentioned.
Seeing the acquainted persona on a a lot better stage in September 2021 perked up the ears of some Dirtbags. Hyde had a quasi-viral second when the supervisor was caught on a sizzling mic in a tiff with Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Robbie Ray. Ray appeared to take difficulty with a vigorous Orioles dugout, to which Hyde responded utilizing some colourful language in his gamers’ protection, later admitting he felt like they have been being unfairly accused.
“I loved every second of that because that’s how we were,” Jones mentioned. “Don’t look over here, don’t peek your head in our dugout. We’re gonna call you out for it. And if you wanna get after it, let’s go! That’s what I loved about Brandon. Brandon wasn’t very outspoken. … until [it] hit the fan then the grizzly bear came out.”
Dirtbags watching the rebuild
Hyde was employed to handle the Orioles shortly after the 2018 season. He was plucked from the Cubs to inherit Buck Showalter’s 47-115 staff that completed on the backside of the league.
At the time, reactionary ambivalence washed over Hyde’s former teammates. On one hand, it’s a joyous second for a pal to achieve the top of teaching in baseball. On the opposite, they thought perhaps he’d been employed solely to be the autumn man of a corporation seemingly missing clear path.
“My thought was, ‘Oh [expletive], that’s gonna be a tough job,” Tagliaferri mentioned. “I would’ve said the same thing if Joe Torre was getting the job. It just was gonna be a tough road.”
“You know what happens in these rebuilds,” Strauss mentioned. “You bring a guy in to lose and right when you’re ready to win, you bring in Joe Maddon. Or you bring in another big-time guy.”
Credit the braveness of Hyde leaving St. Mary’s to stroll on at Long Beach. Maybe the additional jobs out and in of season to remain afloat for additional motivation. Or the Wichita State blunders that pressured Hyde’s hand at his solely staff tackle in two years. The Dirtbag nature of incomes every part day-after-day and yearly, his former teammates say, certainly guided him to turning into an efficient supervisor in Baltimore.
It extra notably helped Hyde keep management of the wheel, navigating the Orioles by means of a soul-sucking rebuild, climbing from 110 losses to 101 wins in two years and incomes the group’s first playoff look since 2016, regardless of a 3-0 sweep to eventual World Series champion Texas Rangers.
When the ultimate out was recorded within the Orioles’ AL East division-clinching win over the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 28, Hyde emerged from the dugout holding again grown-man tears. Former Dirtbags outfielder Chuck Lopez, who bums an MLB streaming subscription off a pal to see his former teammate, watched the scene unfold in 4K from his dwelling in Murrietta, California.
“HYYYDE,” he texted from 2,600 miles away, as fireworks lit up the Camden Yards night time sky.
Lopez quipped perhaps Hyde informed his 2023 staff the “work is ass” speech. Maybe he felt the resemblance of not losing a chance because the Orioles closed in on their first 100-win season since 1980 and first AL East title since 2014.
Stembridge was streaming historical past from his laptop computer. He works as a bodily training trainer in Los Alamitos, California, catching innings in his workplace between lessons to see Hyde in addition to Anthony Santander and Félix Bautista — each have been on his fantasy baseball staff.
Luke Fitzpatrick performed with Hyde in school and the minors. “Probably more than anybody I played with,” the pitcher mentioned, “you’re like, ‘Oh, this dude’s gonna be a coach.” Fitzpatrick and his baseball-crazed son have been following each cease alongside Hyde’s profession, beginning within the Florida Marlins farm system in 2005, up by means of Chicago. And now on the helm in Baltimore, profitable the league’s hardest division with the second thinnest payroll within the majors as a powerful candidate for Manager of the Year.
“He’s earned it all, nothing has been handed to the guy,” Strauss mentioned. “Dirtbags are guys that have to earn everything themselves. Nothing is handed to them and he’s the perfect example. Original Dirtbags, old-school Dirtbags, this is how we see Dirtbags. It’s not a marketing tool for us. It’s the way we played, it’s what we earn and Hyde is definitely a Dirtbag.”