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Sunday, February 27, 2022

Dennis Lewallyn worked to develop players with winning attitude; Saw decades in game as player, coach

As pitching coach of the high-A High Desert Mavericks in 1998, Dennis Lewallyn explained to The Victorville Daily Press his role.

He stressed pitch location and execution, he told The Daily Press.

"You develop players, but you also develop a winning attitude," Lewallyn told The Daily Press that August. "The two do go hand-in-hand. You can be a successful minor league player, but if you don't know how to win, you're not going to help anyone in the big leagues."

Lewallyn spoke from having made the big leagues himself over eight seasons - and a long coaching career that came after. He continued coaching until his retirement in 2019.

Lewallyn's career in baseball began in 1972, taken by the Dodgers in the first round of the January secondary draft out of Chipola College in Florida.

Lewallyn started with the Dodgers at single-A Daytona Beach. He made AA Waterbury in 1974. Then, in September 1975, he made his major league debut. 

Lewallyn got into two games in relief, giving up one hit in three innings. He returned to the majors each year through 1982, though he never saw more than seven major league outings in a single season.

He saw four with the Dodgers in 1976, five in 1977 and one in 1978. He moved to the Rangers in 1980, then the Indians in 1981. He saw four final appearances with Cleveland in 1982. He saw 34 total major league outings over his career.

Lewallyn's coaching career was underway by 1984, as he served as pitching coach at single-A Vero Beach. 

He told The Miami Herald in 1986, his fourth season at Vero Beach, he hoped to return to the bigs as a coach.

"You can always learn no matter where you're coaching," Lewallyn told The Herald then. "It seems like a different situation always crops up, especially in the lower levels. I don't think I'm stagnating here. I think it's a good situation."

He moved to AA San Antonio in 1987, then returned to Vero Beach through 1994. He then continued in the minors, toing through High Desert and AA El Paso. 

He served as minor league pitching coordinator for the Diamondbacks from 2002 to 2006. He then returned to coaching through 2019. He last coached at AA Mississippi, with the Braves.

As he prepared to retire, Mississippi Braves director of communications and broadcasting recalled to The Pensacola News Journal how two of the young hurlers he worked with called Lewallyn first after they made the bigs.

"It was to thank him for everything he did for them," Harris told The News Journal. "He is a special guy. This is a guy who throws BP (batting practice pitching) every day. I say, how is your arm doing?’ And he says, ‘Feeling great.’ I don’t see how he does it."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,852
Made the Majors:1,292-33.5%
Never Made Majors:2,559-66.5%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:528
10+ Seasons in the Minors:323

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