Coaches

Head Coach Bob Wease

The 2021 season marks coach Bob Wease’s 31st year as President and General Manager of the Turks and his 19th as Head Coach. Over that span, Wease has compiled a record of  490-317 and a  winning percentage of .607%. The Turks have won the VBL pennant three out of the last seven years most recently won the Championship in 2012. The Turks were ranked nationally by Perfect Game;  4th in the country in 2011, 12th in 2012, and 7th in 2013. 

Wease earned the Valley Baseball League Coach of the Year award in 2002 and 2012.

Wease was the Head Coach of the 2018 Valley Baseball League All-Star Prospect Team that traveled to Kannapolis, NC to compete in the Southern Collegiate Showcase for the second year. The showcase featured the Southern Collegiate League, Valley Baseball League, Cal Ripken Collegiate League, Sunbelt League, and Florida Collegiate Summer League. The VBL played the Florida League and tied 5-5 and the next day they beat the Sun Belt League 6-4. The VBL is the only league out of the five to go undefeated 3-0-1 over the last two years of the showcase.

Wease played collegiate baseball and football at Shenandoah University before transferring to James Madison  University where he played baseball under the legendary  Coach Brad Babcock.  His baseball career also included playing in the U.S. Army, the local Rockingham County League, and the Valley Baseball League.

Wease was inducted into the Rockingham County Baseball League Hall of Fame, Class of 2013.  As the youngest player ever in the RCBL at 13, Wease played for the Linville Patriots in 1958 until age 16. Wease then began his 7-year VBL career in 1960 for the Harrisonburg Turks, then with New Market Rebels in 1961-63. He didn’t play in 1964 due to a broken leg. Played in the US Army 1965-66. He was back in New Market in 1967, Harrisonburg in 1968, and with the   Shenandoah Indians in 1969.  He then returned back to the RCBL and played from 1970 to 1994 for numerous teams; Twin County,  Grottoes, Linville, and Harrisonburg.  He also managed the Linville Patriots and the Harrisonburg Chics, winning several championships. In 2016 Wease was inducted into the inaugural year of the Valley Baseball League Hall of Fame as a player, an honor that Wease is very proud of. 

Coach Wease treasures his memories of the players that have played on the field of Veterans Memorial Park, watching their careers both in and out of baseball, and seeing the type of quality men that they have become. He maintains relationships with many of them that have gone on to coach at the college ranks and has sent players back to Harrisonburg to play. Coach Wease values the friendships that have been made all across the country of the players and their families that he’s had the privilege to know over the years. He enjoys staying in touch with them and hearing about the next path their journey has taken them.

The 2020 Valley Baseball League season was canceled due to the COVID virus.  However, Coach Wease returned to his roots in the Rockingham County Baseball League for a shortened season and was the assistant coach of the Broadway Bruins. Wease used his connections and recruited the JMU players that he had signed to play for the 2020 Turks to join the Bruins. The Bruins had a stellar season finishing up with a regular-season record of 16-5, an 11-2 playoff record, and won the 2020 RCBL Championship crown. It was a historical season for the Bruins as it was the first time since 1931 that they won the Regular Season Pennant and the first time since 1982 they won a Championship.

Coach Wease resides in Harrisonburg where he has owned and operated Wease Auto Exchange for 44 years.  He is married to Teresa Wease. Together the couple has worked tirelessly since 1990 to build the Turks into a first-class organization that the Harrisonburg – Rockingham County communities can be proud of and fans of all ages can enjoy. The couple has five children and nine grandchildren.

Assistant Coach Marcus Rodriguez

Marcus Rodriguez returns for his third season as Assistant Coach with the Turks and his fourth in the Valley Baseball League. He was an assistant coach with the Staunton Braves in 2017 and he played for the Braves in 2016. 

The Anaheim, California native played his college baseball career for former Valley League Coach Lawrence Nesselrodt at West Virginia Tech. 

Marcus is currently teaching at North Marion High School in Ocala, Florida, and is the assistant coach for the varsity baseball team.

 

Pitching Coach Larry Erbaugh

When Larry Erbaugh got a call from his old friend Bob Wease asking him to be the Harrisonburg Turks’ pitching coach this summer, he knew right away it was an opportunity too good to pass up.

“Bob just called me and asked me to be the pitching coach,” Erbaugh said. “I decided to give it a try. I’m retired, so it’s something that I can do.”

It’s been a long road back to baseball for Erbaugh, who grew up in Rockingham County and was a five-year starter for Clover Hill in the Rockingham County Baseball League. That is where Erbaugh met Wease, as the two played in the league together from 1968 to 1973, though for different teams.

Erbaugh first dipped his toes into baseball with the American Legion team in Staunton, winning two state championships in three years. He played sparingly as a freshman at Turner Ashby High School in nearby Bridgewater, but broke out following his sophomore season. Erbaugh graduated from Turner Ashby in 1968 after compiling 253 career strikeouts, the fifth-most in program history. His efforts earned him a spot in the Turner Ashby Hall of Fame in 2008. Erbaugh credits his development as a pitcher to Ted Bosiak—in his words, “the best coach I ever had.”

“Ted taught me how to pitch my second year,” Erbaugh said. “I developed a curveball. I could always throw pretty hard. I didn’t have a blazing fastball, but it was pretty quick for high school.”

One year, Erbaugh and his Staunton American Legion team won the district championship and advanced to the regionals in Gadsden, Alabama. In a 10–2 victory over a team from Greensboro, North Carolina, the umpire calling balls and strikes, who was also working as a scout for South Carolina, took note of Erbaugh’s performance and gave him a recommendation to the Gamecocks’ staff. Erbaugh took the offer, and the rest is history.

Upon arrival in Columbia in 1969, Erbaugh didn’t play as a freshman, but immediately made an impact the following year, posting a 2.16 ERA in 12 appearances, mostly in relief. He became a full-time starter as a junior, posting six wins and leading the team with 75.2 innings pitched, nearly 30 more than the next-closest Gamecock. 

As a senior in 1972, Erbaugh pitched to the tune of a 1.46 ERA with a 6-5 record in 92.1 innings. Of his 10 starts, nine were complete games. You might assume this was an era in which starters usually pitched the whole game, but in fact, less than half of South Carolina’s games featured a pitcher going the distance, and no other pitcher had more than five complete games that season. That type of durability is something rarely seen in today’s game.

“When I was growing up, at 9-, 10-, 11-years old, I threw and threw and threw,” Erbaugh recalled. “I threw a rubber ball against a building day after day. I think it increased my arm strength. I never had any arm trouble.”

In addition to his curveball, Erbaugh added a slider to his arsenal which, combined with good command, made him incredibly effective on the mound.

“I could throw strikes. I didn’t walk anybody. I kept it around the plate and didn’t give anything away.” 

This was, however, an era that favored the pitchers. Runs were much harder to come by in the 1970s than they are today, a fact that Erbaugh attributes to the development of hitters.

“It’s just a different game,” he remarked. “These hitters today are bigger and stronger than when I played. It’s significant how much more skilled they are in the field and at the plate. I’m just amazed at it.”

Erbaugh’s coach at South Carolina was Bobby Richardson, who played second base for the New York Yankees from 1955 to 1966. Though Richardson was overshadowed by fellow Yankee legends Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Roger Maris, he was a spectacular player in his own right, earning eight All-Star selections, five Gold Gloves, and three World Series rings. He also owns the dubious distinction of being the only World Series MVP to play for the losing team, as New York fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1960 Fall Classic, despite Richardson’s 12 RBI.

After exhausting his eligibility, Erbaugh spent one year as a graduate assistant for the Gamecocks, while also teaching in school. He returned to the valley and settled down, working as a banker for several years before joining Rockingham Redi-Mix, a concrete production company that serves the New River and Shenandoah Valley. Since that graduate year at South Carolina, Erbaugh had been away from coaching and baseball—until the call came from Wease.

“I had just retired two months ago, and it freed up my time to do what I’m doing with the Turks.”

Erbaugh did have previous experience with Harrisonburg, having played with them for five seasons back in the day. There are a few things that have changed between now and then.

“Back then, you worked during the day and played at night,” Erbaugh said. “These guys today are able to enjoy playing in the summer a lot more than we did.”

For Harrisonburg, the season is still young, and Erbaugh is still trying to get a feel for the qualities of the pitching staff.

“We’ve only played two games and you can’t evaluate anybody until you get into game situations,” he noted. “It’s hard to evaluate anyone without several opportunities. There’s lots of arms out there, but it’s too early to separate abilities. For a pitcher, the main thing as far as I know is to throw strikes.”

Reiterating the point about how much the players have improved over the years, Erbaugh said that watching the Turks is almost like watching a minor league game. The level of play, in addition to the quality of the facilities, is the highest it’s ever been.

“I wouldn’t know why any baseball fan in Harrisonburg wouldn’t want to come watch the Turks. It gives you a feel for what good baseball can be.”