Longtime Turks Owner, Manager Looking To Sell Team

Daily News Record
By Greg Madia
September 14, 2021

His office at Wease Auto Exchange on South Main Street resembles more of a miniature baseball museum than it does the business side of his car lot.

Photos of the game’s greats and those big leaguers who rolled through town for a summer fill the wall. Bobbleheads, signed baseballs and other mementos sit on his desk or on top of the filling drawers.

That’s because Bob Wease is a lifer … a total lifer … in the sport.

The 78 year old owner and skipper of the Harrisonburg Turks has run the city’s collegiate summer league club for the last 31 years. But on a mid-September afternoon, he told the Daily News-Record that it’s his time to pass the bat and let someone else take a crack at leading the team.

Wease is selling his beloved Harrisonburg Turks and looking for a buyer.

“There just comes a time when you need a little free time,” Wease said. “I know once I probably sell the team that in the first year or so, I’ll be kicking myself because I won’t know what to do.”

He said he and his wife, Teresa, who handles many of the day-to-day operations of the Turks, are eager to have some different experiences in the summer months. Wease is willing, though, he said, to help the buyer transition into the role of owner and teach the new owner all the necessities it takes to direct the Turks, recruit players and aid them in their development.

“Until that person knows exactly what’s going on,” Wease said is how long he’s prepared to assist with the transition. “I want to leave this thing in good hands.”

Wease is a Valley Baseball League Hall of Famer and his roots with the Turks date back to 1960 when he played for Harrisonburg. He spent seven seasons in the VBL as a player and also thrived in the Rockingham County Baseball League, having won eight RCBL titles during his playing days.

But for the last three decades, he’s cherished his moments working with college ballplayers to help them achieve their goals whether they were prospects with pro futures or simply aspiring to improve before heading back to campus.\

“Bob and Teresa were fantastic to me,” said Clint Robinson, a former first baseman and outfielder for the Washington Nationals who played for the Turks in 2005 while a student at Troy University.

“When I was in Washington, they came over and came to a game,” Robinson said, “and I hung out with them afterward. But I gave them some wood bats to give back to the team.

“They were just great. I think they’ve done a lot of good things for a lot of players and the setup they had for Harrisonburg was top notch to have fully furnished apartments, gym memberships, and meal tickets for college players not making any money. That went above and beyond.”

David Eckstein won two World Series — one with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 and the other with the Anaheim Angels in 2002. He was the MVP of the Fall Classic with St. Louis. But before reaching the pinnacle of a big-league career, Eckstein was with the Turks in the summers of 1995 and 1996 while honing his craft to succeed at the University of Florida.

“Him and his family take you in as one of their own,” Eckstein said of Wease. “I actually broke my hand a week into my first summer there, so I remember I actually apologized because I thought I was letting him down and so I told him I’d come back next year.

“And that’s how much he meant to me, because I didn’t know what I was going to be at Florida, but I ended up turning down the Cape Cod League the following year because I gave Bob my word that I’d come back and play for him.”

Both Robinson and Eckstein said Wease’s energy for the game is second to none,, which they especially appreciated. Players through the years have always said the same.

“With some of these summer programs, you’re showing up just to play,” Eckstein said. “And yes, I was trying to improve my skills, but at the same time I wanted to compete at a high level and I wanted to win, and Bob is that way too.”

Said Robinson, “I think more than the player-development role, it was a passion and letting us know that there was an opportunity here, that he’d let us play and he was just a great facilitator for the opportunity.”

Wease said he wants the next owner of the team to treat players well like he did and have a love for the game. He said the future owner will love the relationships that stem from running the organization with those objectives in mind.\Wease still keeps in contact with Eckstein, Robinson, Juan Pierre, Frank Menechino, Steve Finley, Mike Hubbard – all former Turks who spent time in Major League Baseball – along with countless others. Some will even stop in at his car lot or stay a night with him and Teresa on their way to spring training in Florida if they are from the Northeast and passing through.

“That’s what I’ve enjoyed most,” Wease said. “It’s the players.”