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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview Part 4: Ed Nottle, Two Things

Brockton Rox coach Ed Nottle coaches third Aug. 13, 2011 at Pittsfield's Wahconah Park.

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 thought he had the job, most of the players were his, after all.

He'd sent them to the majors, having managed in the Red Sox system for the past three seasons, most of that time at AAA Pawtucket.

Told the Boston managerial post in 1988 would go to either him or Joe Morgan, the job went to Morgan. First, on an interim basis, then, after a winning streak, long-term.

"I always root the Red Sox and I love every place I ever been except the big leagues," Nottle told The Greatest 21 Days recently. "But I thought I was born to manage the Red Sox.

"I swear to God, I thought I was born manage the Boston Red Sox," Nottle added a short time later, "and I came pretty close."

It was Nottle's second shot at a major league managing job. And it was the second time he'd missed out. The first time, with Oakland in 1983, marked his only year in the majors, as the team bullpen coach, a year Nottle rarely talks about.

This time, though, Nottle stayed with Pawtucket for two more seasons, when he was let go himself.

After three decades in affiliated ball, with only that one forgettable season in the majors to show for it, Nottle then embarked on a new career. His new career looked much the same as his old one, but it was in the independent leagues. It's a job he's continued into 2011 as a coach for the independent Brockton Rox.

Accellerating his jump to the independent circuit, Nottle recalled, was his status as "Singing Ed Nottle." Baseball executives became more interested in that, than his on-field work. And even that interest he didn't believe was sincere.

Nottle had been singing since his days in Florida, early in his playing career. Making just $40 a week, 1,000 miles from his Indiana home, Nottle took to hanging out in the piano bars.

He also took to singing.

"All of a sudden, I didn't pay for my beer, I didn't pay for my food," Nottle recalled, "and I was single then, I didn't pay for anything, and I liked it."

Brockton outfielder Chris Valencia takes a swing at Pittsfield's Wahconah Park Aug. 13, 2011.

From there, Nottle realized his singing could do much more good than simply paying for his beer. His singing could help others.

He began singing and raffling off memorabilia from players he knew. The proceeds going to children's charities in the community.

He's even made an album of his singing, using that to help raise money. In 1983, he recorded "To Baseball With Love," an album still available on Ebay. The album fulfilled a promise to his daughter, that he'd record one if he ever made the big leagues.

It's an album he's proud of.

"I think, without a doubt, it's the best album ever made by anybody in sports," Nottle said,
"not even close."

Years later, while managing at independent Sioux City, Nottle turned the album into a CD, and gave it local charities to benefit the children of Iowa.

But it was his singing that, Nottle recalled, eventually sent him to Sioux City in the first place.

At winter meetings, the questions from executives were frequently about his singing, not about his on-field success or the his managerial awards.

"Nobody'd ever say congratulations, they say 'hey, you still singing in the bars?'" Nottle recalled. "Well, I don't go around singing in bars. I've raised over a million dollars for children by my singing.

If the executives didn't like it, Nottle didn't care.

"There's only two things God ever let me do," Nottle said, "He let me sing and he let me play baseball."

Sioux City's Lewis and Clark Park in 2009. Ed Nottle managed in Sioux City from 1993 to 2000 and 2006-2007. (G21D Photo)

By 1993, Nottle was in the independent leagues, managing at Sioux City adjusting to the new surroundings.

Nottle had the credentials the new Northern League needed, through his success at AAA and his long career overall, Nottle recalled.

The league also showed him it had the talent to be a true professional league. The top three independent leagues today, Nottle believes, could hold their own in AA ball.

The independent leagues could use better pitching, Nottle said, but they've got stronger lineups than most.

On his 2011 Brockton team, Nottle singled out outfielder Keith Brachold, now in his sixth year of independent ball.

"Brachold, for me right now, could play on any AAA team I've ever had in my life," Nottle said. "But what we have is damn good ballplayers in the 7th, 8th, and 9th spots, what they have are guys that are probably in over their heads, but they've got better big league tools."

Coming into the independent leagues in 1993, Nottle didn't expect that level of play and he was proud of it when he saw it.

Nottle has spent much of his time since 1993 as manager for Sioux City and as a manager and coach at Brockton.

In that time, Nottle has seen other differences, including the freedom in the independent leagues from overcoaching.

Go To Part 5: Ballfield Rat

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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