SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend Cubs manager Buddy Bailey is statistically one of the best minor league managers of all time. This season, Bailey became just the eighth minor league skipper to record 2,100 wins.
"Milestones, I think for everybody when they are happening, or when it's close to happening or immediately after it happens, you don't think about the adrenaline so much," Bailey said. "When you get removed and your playing days, or whatever, are over then you reflect back on them and it's going to mean a lot more."
Bailey's been on the perch in dugouts around minor league baseball since 1983, and he gets more joy developing his players for the big leagues than any personal milestone.
"Once you can keep the kids heart and really develop their head into a man's head, those are the ones who go on to the big leagues, stay in the big leagues and become super stars," Bailey said.
Baileys budding baseball super stars appreciate his tutelage.
"Buddy is a great manager to play for," South Bend Cubs shortstop Andy Weber said. "You get a lot of work in with him and you learn a lot from a guy who's been around the game so long. I think we've all been fortunate to learn as much as we can from him."
But his current and former players aren't the only ones who are fortunate. Minor League baseball president and CEO Pat O'Conner says Bailey is great for the minor league baseball brand.
"He has so many players that he has sent to the big leagues," O'Conner said. "More than that developed good men. Buddy is a pro. He's pro's pro. He understands his role in the organization. He understands his role in baseball. Sure he likes to win and he's won an awful lot of games but he's done it with honest hard work, teaching kids the fundamentals of the game and life along the way."
Bailey says the game of life is more important than any result at the ball park.
"Being a professional is not just about being a good athlete but being a good person," Bailey said. "When we are all out of baseball, which everybody has to live with, you want to be a good person."
Those life lessons have kept him in the game and Bailey hopes he can continue to manage for a long time.
"I've been fortunate," Bailey said. "I've lived an extended childhood. Baseball is a kids game and I'm fortunate to put on a uniform and go out to teach young guys how to play the game. But for me personally, I would be out going to the ball park to the game anyway if I wasn't working it. I've got the best seat in the dugout. You don't have to stand in the line to go to the bathroom. You don't get hot dogs or those kind of things. With those views, you've got the best seats in the house."