MANCHESTER — Mike Mordecai’s first year as the Fisher Cats’ manager will also be his last.
At the conclusion of the 2019 season, the Alabama native will be headed back home to serve as the head coach of Dothan’s Northside Methodist Academy baseball team, bringing his 10-year tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization to a close.
It’s a move he has long considered.
“For me, I’ve been doing this for quite some time,” he told the Union Leader on Tuesday. “I had talked to my wife previously in years past about the opportunity arising at some point in time to just stay at home if I found a coaching position there. I would seriously entertain doing that and, lo and behold, their coach was offered a large-school position and he decided to take it. The job was available and we talked about it with the school and they made an offer. I couldn’t turn it down.”
Mordecai, 51, who spent 12 seasons in the majors with the Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins before retiring in 2005, feels now is the perfect time to make this move. He accomplished so much in professional baseball, winning a World Series with both the Braves and Marlins as a player and coaching all throughout the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
Other than a couple of months during the offseason, he hasn’t been home to stay in 10 years.
After coaching at Houston Academy in Dothan from 2006-2009, Mordecai made the move to the professional ranks, starting out as Toronto’s minor league infield coordinator before being promoted to coordinator of instruction for all the Blue Jays’ minor league teams. In 2015 he became the assistant field coordinator and spent three years in that role prior to being brought on as the big league club’s quality control coach under then-manager John Gibbons in 2018.
All the while his wife and four kids — daughter, Taylor, and sons, Jackson, Jacob and John Michael — remained in Dothan. John Michael, the youngest of the group, plays baseball and is a sixth-grader at Northside Methodist, bringing up the possibility of father coaching son someday.
“He’ll just have to know that I’m going to treat him like everyone else,” Mordecai said. “I’m going to expect him to do the same things that everyone else does. Even though he’s my son I’ll make sure he knows that I’m the coach now and he’s a ballplayer. When we step away from the field, I’ll be dad. There will be times when he’s in uniform I’m dad. That’ll happen, but those will be few and far between. I’m really looking forward to that.”
No matter where he’s been, Mordecai’s goal has always been to pass on his knowledge to the younger generation. He feels he learned so much playing the game that he needs to spread those lessons around to the guys coming up, whether they’re professionals or high schoolers.
“I’m fine with stepping away now and I’ll enjoy coaching high school baseball,” he said. “Teaching the game to them and those players that go on to make it a little bit (further). The biggest thing is I’ll get to spend time with my family and my son, who hopefully I’ll get to coach.”
Mordecai says he won’t rule out a return to the professional ranks, but plans to be at Northside Methodist “for the foreseeable future.” It all comes back to finally getting back to his family full-time. He enjoyed managing the Fisher Cats and will follow the players’ careers as they continue to progress through the system, but, right now, he just wants to go back home.