70 The New 40?
Turks Owner Back For Another Year
Daily News Record
By Matthew Stoss
Harrisonburg – Bob Wease turned 70 years old in December. The Harrisonburg Turks’ owner/manager insists that he feels 40, and his wife Teresa says he’s being conservative and he really feels more like 25.
And if not for groundhogs, Bob Wease might be moving like he was 40.
It’s a long, convoluted story that starts with Wease trying to rid his yard of groundhogs in August 2008. Wease bought a dog after his plans to trap and release the groundhogs away from his house didn’t work.
“I’d catch them suckers, take them out, drop them off, and they’d beat me back to the house,” Wease said.
Plan B was the dog. But one night that November, Wease deemed it too cold for the dog to be outside. Wease went to let the dog in, slipped on the stairs and dislocated his kneecap and ripped his patella tendon. He said his thigh muscle “rolled up to my butt.”
The fall left him hanging upside down from his porch steps and screaming.
“I can guarantee you,” Teresa Wease said, “If that had not happened to him, he would still be running around like he was 40 because the knee has slowed him down a bit. The knee has been a big factor.”
Other than that, not much has changed for the fiery and occasionally irascible Wease, who said, “A lot of people tell me that when I’m not laughing, I look grumpy. But I’m not.”
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed for Wease at 70 is how he feels about the Turks. The longtime fixture in area baseball said he has no plans to retire as manager or to sell the team, which he’s owned since 1990. Wease said he intends to pass the Turks down to his son Matt.
The Valley League is a summer circuit stocked with college players from coast to coast. Obviously, it’s time-consuming. Owners have to find players, house them, feed them and hire a staff to help them enhance their skills. Wease also doubles as the team’s skipper.
And he still has a day job – he owns a car dealership, the garage of which houses a classic Austin-Healey. Still, Wease plans to keep spending his summers traveling up and down the Shenandoah Valley managing guys 50 years younger than him.
“Age is a figment of your imagination,” said Wease, pronouncing “figment” as “figament” “If you think you’re old, you are old. You can be old at 30. I’m 70. You asked me how old I am? I’m 70 years old. But I’m going to tell you something. I don’t feel 70. I feel 40. I feel great. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’ll know when it’s time to quit, and when it’s time, then I will quit.”
Wease, a former sergeant in the Army who went to Broadway High School and James Madison University, has been managing the Turks since 2002 and most recently won the Valley League championship in 2012, part of a hot three-year run that’s included two pennants (2001 and 2013).
This year, the Turks are 1-3 to start the season after returning about 10 players – an abnormally high number – from 2013’s pennant-winning team.
Still, the knee and being 70 has slowed Wease in some ways.
He can no longer play in the Roy Hobbs World Series (a 50-and-over baseball tournament in the Tampa Bay area that Wease played in only once because of the knee) and he doesn’t cut the grass at his Laurel Street home shirtless anymore.
But Wease – who played for the Turks and in the Rockingham County Baseball League before retiring at age 48 – still tells stories and still may or may not be prone to exaggeration.
“I hit one out foul at (the) Tampa Bay stadium at 62 years old, said Wease, referring to Steinbrenner Stadium, home of the Tampa Yankees, the New York Yankees’ class-A affiliate. “It went foul by three feet.”
Then there’s the story about when he asked to be thrown out of a Valley game. He didn’t remember exactly when but said it was a strategic tossing.
“I know all these umpires really well,” Wease said. “i say, “Hey, I want you to throw me out because my players are dea. They’re not in the game, and if you throw me out, I might be able to get them (excited). Now, I’m going to stand here and argue with you. I’m going to flap my hands and I’m going to yell and I’m going to scream and then I’m going to see the reaction, and I think it worked.”
Teresa, who has been married to Bob for 27 years, said she didn’t see her husband stopping in the near future and that only he could make that decision.
If the story of how Wease got into managing is an indication, it doesn’t appear that Wease will be getting out of the dugout anytime soon.
“When he first got the team, he was the general manager and he ran everything behind the scenes,” Teresa Wease said. “And he would hire coaches and he finally got to the point after I don’t know how many years that he said, “Why in the world am I paying these young guys to do something that I’ve been doing all my life?” And so he decided he was going to coach.”
Which he’s doing to do for the foreseeable future, despite those groundhogs.