MENOMONIE, Wis. (WCCO) — Toby Gardenhire has stepped up to the plate thousands of times as a player, but it’s a brand new ballgame for him in his new role as a first-time head baseball coach.
The University of Wisconsin-Stout didn’t have to look very far when it filled the head baseball coach vacancy back in January.
“I always said I wanted to go into coaching eventually. I just wasn’t sure when it was going to be,” Gardenhire said. “It’s a pretty good opportunity for me and I’m having fun.”
Right off the bat, 2012 was a new year for Toby Gardenhire. He got his first real new job and was married to his wife Lindsay all in the span of a few days.
“It was crazy. I got the job probably a week before we got married. I told them I was getting married then going on a honeymoon for a week, so when I got back from that we could start.”
Gardenhire quickly got into the swing of things with his new team after spending seven years in the Minnesota Twins minor league system. The Blue Devils players said they’ve definitely been impressed with how the first-year coach has handled his new job.
“It’s his first job but it doesn’t seem like it because he’s been around baseball so long and he knows so much about the game. He’s got a lot to teach us and it’s really benefitted us,” said junior outfielder Ben Yaucher.
“He’s brought a lot of stuff that the Twins do with their practices into our practices so it’s been kind of cool having him around and practicing the way the Twins do,” said junior catcher Matt Guida.
Toby Gardenhire grew up around baseball and now likens his coaching style to his dad, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
“He has a passion for baseball and it shows, but he also understands that baseball is a game and that his job is to help these kids enjoy baseball,” said Ron Gardenhire. “It’s a non-scholarship school, so these kids are there because they love the game.”
Toby Gardenhire is now 29 years old and understands all too well how humbling the game of baseball can be. It’s his own practical experience that helps him during the tough times.
“I’ve screwed up all kinds of plays on the baseball field and I tell these guys that,“ he said.
Toby may not have made it to the big leagues as a player, but he gets the big picture.
“A lot of times when guys get done playing, that’s it and they have to get a job and be in the real world. It’s not really like that for me. You can call this a job and being in the real world, but it’s still coaching baseball so it’s pretty cool,” Toby said.
In his first season, UW-Stout finished with a 17-22 overall record, including a 6-17 mark in WIAC play.