South All-Stars To Share Spotlight Sunday
Eight Turks To Lead South All-Stars
By Nick Sunderland
Daily News Record
HARRISONBURG – Even at 70 years old, Bob Wease remains an competitive as they come in his approach to the game of baseball.
That’s what makes the longtime Harrisonburg Turks owner/manager’s view of Sunday night’s Valley Baseball League All-Star Game at Veterans Memorial Park all the more surprising.
“To be honest with you, it doesn’t matter who wins,” said Wease, who will manage the South squad. “It’s all about the scouts.
Indeed, with nothing but pride on the line when the 29-player North and South teams face off on Sunday, Wease said he is most concerned with giving the entirety of his roster an equal opportunity. He expects around 30 professional scouts to be on hand Sunday – with a 60-yard dash competition and seven-player home run derby preceeding the 7:30 p.m. game.
“It’s stressful, it really is,” Wease said. “Because my biggest fear, my biggest worry, is that I’m going to slight somebody – that somebody’s not going to get the needed playing time. And that’s the last thing I want. I don’t want that. I want to make sure everybody’s happy.”
In doing so, Wease said his pitchers will throw no more than one inning apiece and each of his batters will receive at least two at-bats.
With a first-place mark of 16-7 entering this weekend’s All-Star break, Harrisonburg landed a Valley League best eight players on the South roster. Among the Turks represented are Georgia State designated hitter Matt Rose (.366 average), Wingate center fielder Thomas Spitz (.344) and Georgia State left-hander Garrett Ford (4-1, 1.75 ERA). Rose and reigning All-Star Game MVP Eric Kalbfleisch – a UNC-Greensboro outfielder – will represent the Turks in Sunday’s home run derby.
In addition to his baseball duties – which Wease joked pay him $250,000 per year – the Turks mainstay also owns a car dealership. His south Main Street office doubles as a baseball shrine, with countless memory-inducing photos of himself alongside former Harrisonburg players, who ultimately reached the Major League, plastered across its walls.
Included in the cathedral of nostalgia are framed snapshots of Fran Menechino – one of Wease’s all-time favorite Turks and now the hitting coach of the Miami Marlins – towering relief pitcher Jon Rauch, speedy outfielder Juan Pierre and 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein, among many others.
Wease expects to add a few more images to his wall by the time this year’s Harrisonburg group has seen its day. “There’s 58 players there,” Wease said of this year’s All-Star teams. “Out of those 58 guys, I would say that at least 15 to 20 of ’em will put on a Major League uniform at one time or another. Now that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay, but they will put on a Major League uniform. And out of this group of 58 ball players, you’ll have four or five guys – maybe 10 – that will be in the big leagues for a long time.”
Wease’s counterpart for Sunday’s game is 30-year-old North manager Brad Neffendorf, whose Front Royal team sits at second in the Valley League standings at 18-8. His Cardinals, along with Staunton, will have seven representatives in uniform.
Neffendorf’s approach to managing the North squad is not all that different from Wease’s.
“Obviously we’re going to manage to win,” said Neffendorf, a former part-time scout with the Marlins. “But the main deal is to get these guys their time.”