When the name of the new manager of the Hartford Yard Goats was announced about eight weeks ago, it was no doubt unfamiliar to 99 percent of Connecticut’s baseball fans. But by the time the Double-A Eastern League season gets underway this spring in Hartford’s new stadium, the manager’s name may have become close to a household word to Yard Goats’ fans.
For he is Jerry Weinstein, the same Jerry Weinstein who is currently far away from Hartford, directing a group of near-unknowns in the World Baseball Classic. Weinstein is the manager of Team Israel that just swept through Pool A of the WBC with a 3-0 record. It was a competition that few baseball experts expected them to survive; few, that is, except Weinstein and his believers. After all, they had to face experienced players representing the Netherlands, packed with current major leaguers, such as Xander Bogaerts and Didi Gregorius, plus talent rich teams from the baseball-crazy nations of Korea and Chinese Taipai.
Now, Team Israel has moved on from Seoul, Korea, to Tokyo, Japan, to compete in Pool E. Weinstein will be leading a group who have rapidly become the surprise of the WBC, if not the baseball world.
Name of new Yard Goats’ manager was met with “who’s he?”
When he was identified as the man to succeed Darin Everson, who managed the Yard Goats for the past two difficult seasons when they didn’t even have a home ballpark, the announcement was met with a general “who’s he?” reaction.
The Yard Goat’s general manager, Tim Restall, said at the time that the organization was “excited to have someone with Jerry’s experience lead our club in our first season in Hartford. Having someone that has coached in the major leagues, minor leagues and Olympics is a huge benefit to our club.”
If three games in the World Baseball Classic are proof that Restall knew what he was talking about, then the proof is on the table.
An outstanding stint managing in Class-A
When the Class-A Modesto Nuts (no kidding, that’s their name) of the California League were a farm club of the National League’s Colorado Rockies, they had a winning record in all five seasons that Weinstein was at the helm (2007 to 2011). Later he put in two seasons with the parent club as a catching and defensive positioning coach.
He has also been a college coach and is an author of baseball books.
Weinstein’s updated profile will now include perhaps his greatest accomplishment in the game. He has instilled confidence and cohesion into a group of mostly obscure players who wear religious skull caps when they hear the strains of Hatikva, the Israel National Anthem, before games. Then they switch to their baseball hats and play the game that originated in America. They play it pretty well, too, well enough to get past the first round in the World Baseball Classic.
Hartford fans will be hoping Jerry Weinstein can bring similar success to the Yard Goats.