Change on the bench for the 2014 Torrington Titans.
TORRINGTON: There will be a new man on the bench when the 2014 Torrington Titans take to the fields around the Futures Collegiate Baseball League and he’s a guy not far removed from the playing field himself.
Dan McNamara, a native of Brewster, New York, will be the third Titans manager in the last four years.
Misha Dworken, who was at the helm the past two year’s and long time local coach Gregg Hunt are his predecessors for the first three years of the FCBL.
Torrington failed to make the playoff a year ago, finishing with a 22-28 and in seventh place.
McNamara comes to Torrington (he plans on moving to the area in early 2014) fresh off a stint with the Newark Bears in the Can-American League and it was after his last games with the Bears that the opportunity arose to take the top spot with Torrington.
“I was heading into the clubhouse when I got a message on my phone from Alan (Seraita, Titan’s principal owner),” McNamara said. “I had been thinking about what I wanted to do when my playing days were over and I jumped at this shot.”
McNamara had giving thought to becoming a scout or hitting coach with the long term goal of becoming a head coach somewhere.
His connection with the Titans and Chris Carminucci, who still owns a part of the team, stretches way back to when Carminucci was managing a team in Atlantic City.
“Chris has been there for me my entire career,” McNamara said. “He brought me down for a pro tryout in Florida and I later signed with the Texarkana Gunslingers of the Continental Baseball League.”
In 2010, the infielder/catcher was an assistant coach for the Mercy College Mavericks, helping the team to their first playoff appearance in two decades.
From there his career took him to a place that now holds an FCBL franchise, Brockton to play for the Rox.
He spilt duty behind the plate and as a coach for the Rox as they made a run to the playoffs as well.
In early 2012, McNamara briefly attended Major League training camp with the Washington Nationals during spring training.
The Bears have been his home the past two years and now he comes to a Torrington team fresh off about as much disappointment as has been seen in college baseball in a good long while.
Torrington was a mess in 2013. On and off the field.
Seraita took over late and even with local favorite Ed Gadomski on the job at general manager, a job he put his heart and soul into, the year was filled with potholes starting with Mother Nature.
The Titans were rained out eight times at home in 2013, a killer in the attendance department which drains the revenue department.
Jakes Wayback Burgers started in the concession stand but left two weeks into the season, leaving the duties to Seraita and the team to run.
Some of the off field behaviors were not up to par with what is expected from both an organizational standpoint or from a player aspect.
Corporate sponsorship and attendance drives the very foundation of a team and 2013 fell far short of expectations.
Some things where in their control, others not.
McNamara is fully aware of the challenges he faces this year, starting with a team he is in the process of crafting himself.
“We will be having a conversation with the players soon after they get here on just what I expect from them, on and off the field,” McNamara said. “I stayed with host families during my playing days and understand that what they do is very important. To open your home to a ballplayer is one of the biggest gifts anyone can do for them. They will understand that.”
Host families have dropped off over the last few years. It’s an area the Titans need to sure up and do a better job taking care of them.
McNamara looks forward to meeting the fans at Fuessenich Park this summer as well.
“I intent on meeting as many people as I can,” McNamara said. “In Newark we had players sign autographs after every game and had some special Sundays set up too.”
What kind of team can Titans fans expect next season?
“I like to go with kind of a mixed bag of chips,” McNamara said. “I want to be able to hit with power when needed, play some small ball and do what it takes to win. One thing folks can count on is an even greater presence of local players.”
Locals make the show a better one, no question.
Home town favorites like Pat Austin (Torrington) and Michael Odenwaelder (Wamogo, Goshen) were big parts of the 2013 Titans.
It’s unclear if either will be back at this moment but one arm that will be back is Mike Gibbons, who pitched a no-hitter in 2013.
Seraita thinks he has a good one in McNamara.
“Chris Carminucci recommended him highly,” Seraita said. “I spoke with his manager in Newark, Gary Templeton (16 year MLB standout) who had nothing but good things to say about him.”
So as the fall of 2013 baseball season cranks up, the 2014 summer season is making noise already.