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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Jim Eschen tried to move up himself as a player, later worked to help others as minors manager

Pittsfield Mets skipper Jim Eschen lost two of his top players, Jeromy Burnitz and Todd Douma, to promotions within days of each other in August 1990, The Berkshire Eagle wrote.

Eschen knew the promotions meant he and his staff had done their jobs.

"That's what we're here for, to help move them up," Eschen told The Eagle. "They both earned the chance."

Years earlier, Eschen had been the one looking for promotions as a player himself. He saw 10 pro seasons and made it all the way to AAA, but he never made the majors.

He then embarked on a minor league coaching and managing career. That career appeared to prove brief, three seasons. 

Eschen's career in baseball began in 1971, taken by the Tigers in the 26th round of the draft out of Wake Forest University.

Eschen started with the Tigers at short-season Batavia. He hit .223 over 67 games. 

He moved to single-A Lakeland and single-A Rocky Mount for 1972, then single-A Clinton in 1973 and AA Montgomery for 1974 and 1975. 

He helped Montgomery to a playoff win in September 1975 as he picked up both the game-winning hit and game-saving defensive play as he caught a bases-loaded blooper, The Montgomery Advertiser wrote.

"I knew he hadn't hit it good and that I had to get it," Eschen told The Advertiser of the play. "There wasn't a chance for (the outfielder) to get to it."

Eschen made AAA Evansville for 1976 and 1977. He then moved to the Royals system, where he played three seasons at AA Jacksonville to end his playing career.

He then returned by 1989 with the Mets, as manager at rookie Kingsport. He moved to short-season Pittsfield for 1990. Late that June, he assessed his young team to The Eagle.

"When our pitchers throw strikes and our defense plays well, we're a good team," Eschen told The Eagle. "We've got some guys who can hit, but we're not going to mash the ball up and down the lineup. We need pitching and defense."

Eschen then moved up himself for 1991. He's credited as serving as hitting coach at Williamsport and also third base coach at AAA Tidewater. That season marked his last credited in the minors.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,664
Made the Majors:1,252-34.2%
Never Made Majors:2,412-65.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:522
10+ Seasons in the Minors:308

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