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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Clint Hurdle spent a decade in the bigs as a player; He's managed in the bigs far longer

Expectations for the young Royals hitter Clint Hurdle  in 1978 were high. It's just Hurdle didn't immediately live up to them.

To The New York Times that July, Hurdle said he just took it as motivation to work harder.

"I don't know what anyone expected me to do. I just go out and play as hard as I can," Hurdle told The Times. "It's nice to have a lot of people think lot of you. But it's been an uphill battle all the way, and it's going to take a lot of time."

Hurdle went on to play in 10 major league seasons, but he never really lived up to those early projections. He has, however, gone on to spend a lot of time in baseball - more than four decades.

After his time as a player, Hurdle has gone on to a long career as a manager and coach in both the minors and in the majors.

As manager in the majors, Hurdle has headed the Rockies and then the Pirates in 17 seasons. In 2007, he took the Rockies to the World Series.

"I have a love for the game of baseball," Hurdle told The Pittsburgh Tribune in September 2019 of his longevity in the game. "I have a passion for the game of baseball. I loved watching it. I loved playing it. I loved coaching it. I love managing it."

Hurdle's long career in baseball began in 1975, taken by the Royals in the first round of the draft out of Merritt Island High School in Florida.

Hurdle started with the Royals in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He then played 1976 at single-A Waterloo and then AAA Omaha in 1977.

In September 1977, Hurdle made his debut in Kansas City. He got into nine games and went 8 for 26. He then played a full season with the Royals in 1978. He ended with a .264 average over 133 game.

Hurdle continued with the Royals through 1981. He saw 59 games in 1979, 130 in 1980 and then 28 in 1981.

He played in five more major league seasons, with the Reds, Mets and Cardinals, including a 78-game run with St. Louis in 1986.

Soon, Hurdle started his new career, as a manager. By 1988, he was managing single-A St. Lucie. He made AA Jackson in 1990.

He made an early impression in the manager's office, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

"Obviously, we are very high on Clint," Gerry Hunsicker, Mets' director of minor-league operations, told The Sentinel in August 1990. "He is an excellent teacher and communicator, and he works very hard at trying to become the best manager that he can be. He is able to identify his weaknesses and he works hard to overcome them."

Hurdle then made AAA Tidewater as manager in 1992. In 1997, he returned to the majors as a coach for the Rockies.

In 2002, he took over as manager.

Hurdle managed Colorado from 2002 to 2009. After Colorado's 2007 World Series defeat, by a sweep, attention turned to the Rockies' lengthy layoff between the NLCS and World Series, eight days.

"You know, we just stayed focused on the job at hand," Hurdle told The New York Daily News afterward. "We were in uncharted territory. We handled it, I think, professionally. I'll give it some thought in the offseason how many things we could have done differently to create a more different environment, a more challenging environment."

Hurdle moved to the Rangers as coach in 2010. For 2011, he took the top job with Pittsburgh. He continued as manager with Pittsburgh through 2019, making the playoffs three times. His 2019 season marked his last with the team as Pittsburgh dismissed him at season's end.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,180
Made the Majors:1,156-36.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,024-63.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 480-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

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