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Saturday, September 10, 2022

Don Long played, but he liked teaching the game more; Later became ML coach for three teams

Don Long played into his third season, then went home, his college town's paper The Spokane Spokesman-Review wrote three years later in 1988.

A former third-round pick, Long was done playing. But he wasn't done with baseball. He soon found his way into coaching, in 1988 at short-season Bend, The Spokesman-Review wrote.

"I like teaching," Long explained to The Spokesman-Review that July. "Watching kids develop. Seeing them take things that you talk about and put them to work. I get a lot more out of this."

Long then got plenty out of it over the next three-plus decades, as a minor league coach and manager, then as a major league hitting coach for three different teams, the Pirates, Reds and Orioles, most recently in 2021.

Long's career in baseball began in 1983, taken by the Giants in the third round of the draft out of Washington State University.

He started with the Giants at rookie Great Falls. He hit .284 in 65 games. He then saw single-A Fresno in 1984 and AA Shreveport in 1985. He played just 27 games at Shreveport and hit .191 when he ended his career.

Long then got into coaching, first at Seattle University, then with the Giants at short-season Everett. He joined the Angels for 1988, where managed at Bend. He managed single-A Quad City for 1990 and led the team to the Midwest League title.

After the title win, Quad City general manager Mike Tatoian praised Long for doing what Long liked to do, teach, according to The Moline Dispatch.

"I saw a group of young kids grow together under Don Long," Tatoian told The Dispatch. "They had some tough times, but never once played as anything but a group."

Long moved to manage AA Midland in 1991, then AAA Vancouver in 1994. In 1999, he moved  to the Phillies system as minor league hitting coordinator, a job he held for nine seasons.

Then, in 2008, he moved to the Pirates, as the club's major league hitting coach. He stayed there for three seasons. He later moved to the Reds as hitting coach for five. He arrived in Baltimore in 2019, where he was credited with helping Trey Mancini.

As he arrived in Baltimore for 2019, Long explained to The Athletic his motivation.

"My motivation in doing this is to do everything I can to help people discover how great they can be. That’s what really drives me and motivates me, and I know the best way to do that is develop trust," Long told The Athletic.

Long stayed with the Orioles through 2021.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,023
Made the Majors:1,339-33.3%-X
Never Made Majors:2,6834-66.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:547
10+ Seasons in the Minors:331

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