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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Interview Part 3: Ed Nottle, Snapped One Up

Brockton Rox assistant coach Ed Nottle on the bench before a game Aug. 13, 2011 at Pittsfield.

Part 1: Stayed in Baseball | Part 2: Best Thing | Part 3: Snapped One Up | Part 4: Two Things | Part 5: Ballfield Rat | Player Stories

Ed Nottle recalled losing about 20 pounds that summer.

It was his first managerial job, in 1978, at short-season Bend, Ore., in the Oakland system. He was also by himself, Athletics owner Charlie Finley didn't pay for coaches.

"I threw every pitch, early hitting, BP, I think it was good for me," Nottle recalled recently to The Greatest 21 Days.

He also wasn't complaining. It was something he'd wanted to do for some time, but never had the opportunity.

A former minor league pitcher, Nottle transitioned into coaching in the Rangers' system in the early 1970s, but never fully leaving the mound. He had at least two outings each year through 1976. Nottle got five outings in 1973, as a coach at single-A Gastonia.

Nottle recalled benefiting as a coach, and later as a manager, from his years as a pitcher. In the White Sox organization, Nottle recalled tearing up his elbow, hiding the damage to keep pitching. He also knew what it was like to get up in the bullpen too many times.

During his time as a coach, Nottle wanted to take that next step to the manager's office. But, he recalled he had to work for it. Pitchers then generally didn't get the consideration for the top spots.

Ed Nottle's TCMA coach's card from 1974 at Gastonia, purchased on Ebay in 2010.

He made the Rangers' AAA club at Tucson for 1977 as pitching coach. For 1978, the Athletics called, offering him the manager's job at Bend.

The Bend job offered $3,000 less than he made at Tucson, but Nottle didn't hesitate.

"I snapped it up," Nottle, an assistant coach at independent Brockton for 2011, said. "I've loved managing. I miss it terribly right now. I hope to manage somewhere next year."

Nottle moved on to manage AA Waterbury for 1979, then made AAA Tacoma as manager for 1981 and 1982. In 1982, he earned league Manager of the Year honors, and a shot at the manager's post in Oakland.

Nottle recalled being interviewed for the post, and being told it came down to him and the eventual manager Steve Boros. Despite not getting the job, Nottle was still brought in for the press conference.

He knew the top job wasn't his. But, he believed he was in line for a job as an Athletics bench coach spot.

But he wasn't named a bench coach. He was named bullpen coach. Nottle didn't like it one bit. As he saw it, there was nothing to do as a bullpen coach. His dog could be a bullpen coach. "I thought, what a waste."

Brockton pitcher John Kelly drops the rosin bag between pitches at Pittsfield Aug. 13, 2011.

After the press conference, Nottle tried to get himself out of it, but he couldn't.

"Everybody thought it was such a big deal: Ed Nottle in the big leagues after 25-30 years," Nottle recalled. "Well, I didn't. I thought it sucked. And I thoght it sucked the whole time I was there."

The year before he'd been Manager of the Year. In 1983, Nottle threw batting practice and he answered the phone. He doesn't remember anyone asking him one thing.

The 1983 season over, Nottle was invited back. But he went in and asked out. He returned to AAA Tacoma and managing in the minors.

"I'm famous for stories," Nottle said. "But nobody ever hears me talking about '83. Never. I'm not proud of that at all."

Nottle got one more shot at managing in the majors. That came in 1988, with the Red Sox. But, again, he would fall tantalizingly close to the big league job he wanted. Failing that, he would soon leave affiliated ball behind altogether, for the emerging leagues in independent ball.

Go To Part 4: Two Things

Part 1: Stayed in Baseball | Part 2: Best Thing | Part 3: Snapped One Up | Part 4: Two Things | Part 5: Ballfield Rat | Player Stories

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