Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham doesn’t know where he’ll be next season, but he has tried to make an impact during his first season with New Hampshire.
Meacham joined the Fisher Cats this season after managing High-A Dunedin to a first-half division title and Florida State League playoff berth in 2013. This year marked his first managing Double-A in 20 years and first in the Eastern League.
“I’ve never been in the Eastern League before. I’ve never been to New Hampshire before, so I was kind of wondering what it would be like,” said Meacham.
The veteran manager said the transition back to a higher level of baseball took some getting used to.
“It was 20 years ago when I was in Double-A managing so (I had to) re-acclimate to coaching guys who might go to the big leagues in the same season,” Meacham said.
Another test as manager of the Fisher Cats (65-72) this season came during their 11-game losing streak from May 11-21. The stress that came during that time came with a favorite memory, too.
“For me, the main thing was how we came out of our (slump),” Meacham said. “Everyone was kind of looking all over the place to see who’s fault it was and, then I think through that course everyone started looking at themselves and seeing what they could do to get out of it and work out of it and become a better team.”
The manager also took time to self reflect and realized he had to change, as well, to get his team back in the win column.
“At the beginning, I tried to watch guys and yell at them and try to shake them out of it and try to get them to look in the mirror,” Meacham said. “Then I realized I need to step back and just support them and be encouraging and lighten up a little bit.
“I think the combination of them just being a good group of guys and a combination of our staff, my hitting coach and pitching coach especially, being more consistent with them, we were able to pull out of it.”
Pitching coach Jim Czajkowski and hitting coach Jon Nunnally, said Meacham, have both been a big help for him this season.
“Our guys have been great. Jon Nunnally, I call him the hit doctor ... he not only teaches them the mechanics but also the mental side of hitting,” Meacham said.
Czajkowski, Meacham said, has been great because “he doesn’t tell me what he wants to hear, he tells me what he thinks ... the relationship we have is good so we can yell at each other and disagree but he comes out knowing I’m the boss but that I also have the responsibility.”
Even though Nunnally, Czajkowski and Meacham are on staff to coach the Fisher Cats players on baseball, Meacham hopes his lasting impression is one they can use off the field.
“From Day 1 that I’ve been here with these guys, I’ve tried to let them realize there’s more to life than just baseball,” Meacham said. “Even if they play and have a great major league career, they’re going to be 40 and have a ton of years left to live.”
“In this game, you have a tendency to be a boy longer than most males have to be,” he added. “Any sport you play for a living, it just seems like every day is another game and you’re not really in the real world yet.”
Meacham played six seasons in the major leagues as a shortstop for the New York Yankees from 1983-88 and chose to trade his batting gloves for a manager’s jacket after his playing career.
“So my lasting impression is to try to influence them to think about it is to be a better man, a better husband and a better father if they have kids,” Meacham said.
The Fisher Cats have four games remaining this season against the New Britain Rock Cats tonight through Monday. Meacham views the road trip as one last chance for his players to improve.
“Hopefully, they can learn something in those four games they can carry over ... and play at a higher level and eventually in the big leagues like they’ve always dreamed of,” Meacham said.