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HJC days prepped 'Claws' Roadcap

July 01, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

In a sense, Steve Roadcap has come full circle.

The manager of the Lakewood BlueClaws is in town this weekend for a three-game series against the Hagerstown Suns at Municipal Stadium, nearly 30 years after a layover in Hagerstown helped set the groundwork for his coaching career.

Roadcap, a native of Pottsville, Pa., played the 1979 season for coach Gene Kerns at Hagerstown Junior College after one year at Mansfield (Pa.).

Roadcap went on to Francis Marion, then spent several years in the minors before his first coaching opportunity arose.

"I was playing in the (Chicago) Cubs system and I had a foot injury," Roadcap said. "I was 29 and the Cubs presented me with a chance to coach. I didn't have much time to decide. Looking back, I might have wanted to keep playing."

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Roadcap, 46, credits Kerns - who is also a major league scout - for teaching him lessons that still influence him as a manager today.

"When I came to HJC, it was a good year," Roadcap said. "I had a lot of fun. I have a lot of memories. Kerns was a stern coach. But when you would talk with him, he would tell you things that would stick.

"I think everyone you play for is just a piece of the puzzle. You watch other people from the big leagues on down. It's all unique and you see what's good and what's bad. Gene was one of the good ones. He was a positive influence. He was an aggressive style of coach."

Roadcap took the Cubs offer and worked as a pitching coach in 1987 before spending the next 11 years as a manager in the Cubs farm system. He was named the best managing prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America while managing Rockford to the playoffs in 1995 and 1996.

During that span, he met another piece in his managing puzzle.

"I ran across Jerry Manuel," Roadcap said. "He taught me to do the right things."

Like Roadcap, Manuel was a strong player who wasn't much of a hitter in his career. After his playing days were numbered, he went through the minor leagues as a manager before managing the Chicago White Sox from 1998 to 2003.

"He was a positive reinforcement. It was seeing how he handled things and was a calming effect," Roadcap said.

Roadcap took the influences and left the Cubs for a six-year stint in the Seattle organization as both a roving catching coordinator and a manager. In 2006, he joined the Philadelphia organization in a family-first move.

Roadcap admits he's still hours away from home, but he is still closer to the family. So he didn't mind managing at Single-A Batavia in the New York-Penn League in 2006 before being named the manager of Lakewood this season.

The BlueClaws are in defense of the South Atlantic League championship, using a number of players Roadcap managed in Batavia.

And now comfortable with his position, Roadcap came to a realization.

"No matter where you manage, baseball is baseball," he said. "There are a lot of organizations. Some are more liberal and some are more conservative, but my job is to teach and give opportunities, hoping guys will move.

"When you play for me, you are going to learn the game. Today, the players have changed, but they are still required to play hard, play fair and win."

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