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Steiner resigns as 'Cats baseball coach

June 03, 2005|by CHRIS CARTER/Staff Correspondent

For seven years, Rod Steiner has distinguished himself as one of the best high school baseball coaches in the area.

But it's the time and effort Steiner put in before the first pitch and after the final out on game day that has helped turn the Williamsport baseball program into be one of the best.

It's also what has led Steiner out of the Wildcats dugout for the last time.

Steiner resigned his position as head baseball coach earlier this week, walking away with two region titles, two state championship appearances, an MVAL Antietam title and a .662 winning percentage (104-53).

The 2005 season culminated in a somewhat bittersweet ending for Steiner as the Wildcats finished the regular season with an area-best 18-2 record, but suffered a surprising playoff elimination in the Maryland Class 1A West final against eventual state champion Beall.

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"(The decision) wasn't really affected by anything that happened this year," Steiner said. "Even if we would have had won a championship, I think it would have been time for a change. It's good for a program to change every once in a while."

Steiner's decision had more to do with the requirements that came with the job - most of which he was ready to say goodbye to.

"It takes a lot of time, hours and money to keep a program up and running," Steiner said. "Because baseball is nonrevenue, you're donating your own time and your own stuff and it becomes exhausting."

Steiner will remain with Williamsport as a consultant to the baseball program and will maintain his role as the golf coach, a job he says has much less stress and strain.

"With golf, you don't have to prepare your field or anything like that. All you have to do is coach," he said. "With baseball, I would sometimes spend an hour, hour and a half a night watering and dragging the field."

Along with the field duties, Steiner has played key roles in upgrading the dugouts, press box and concession stand, all for the love of the game.

"We do this stuff because, to us, it's an important part of the game," Steiner said. "We've been trying to do things to create a baseball atmosphere at Williamsport and I think we've done a good job.

The search for Steiner's replacement has begun, but most people in Williamsport know it will be difficult - if not impossible.

"Rod is going to be a hard person to replace," Williamsport athletic director Adrian Custer said. "He's won a lot of games, but he's also shaped a lot of kids' lives on the way."

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