5th of Jul | Story

Driven to succeed


GREENVILLE, Sout Carolina — When Dick Such needs to teach a pitcher a lesson, when he needs to provide context or wisdom, he thinks back to 1967.

He pitched in the majors in 1970, his only season up there, 50 innings over 21 games for the old Washington Senators, but that season slips his mind. He coached more than three decades worth of teams, including the 1987 and 1991 World Series champion Minnesota Twins, but both of those glorious seasons inexplicably wander off, too. He always thinks about 1967.

That season was Such’s second in the pros. He started 20 games for the York White Roses, the Double-A affiliate for the Senators. He struck out 76, walked 70, and gave up 40 earned runs, 57 runs and 108 hits. His earned run average was 2.81.
His record was 0-16.

“Most of the time when someone brings it up, I tell them I don’t want to hear about it, but that’s not the case any more,” he says. “I just tell them it was a typing error in the book. It was 16-0 with that ERA.”

Such laughs about it now. After all, that season was 45 years ago. When he needs to, though, he conjures up the emotion and shares it with his young pitchers.

“High school career, college career, always successful, and then you hit a roadblock,” says Such, now in his second season as the pitching coach for the Greenville Drive, the Low-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. “You pitch well, but you don’t win. Then everything is about winning. If you win, things are good. This is a game of failure. Once you learn to live with that, you can handle it better.”

Such tells his pitchers – no matter what level he happens to be coaching – that he experienced the lows, the complete emotional bottom a player can reach, and worked his way to the complete high. He went winless for a season. He also reached the Majors and has a pair of World Series rings.

“You never know what’s going to happen each year that you play this game, because it’s a crazy game,” he says. “It’s played by people. Those that can handle, it will handle it well. Those that can’t, you just wait another year.”


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Every night Jeremiah Dew picks up a microphone at Fluor Field and yells for the crowd to make noise, Drive fans see just one part of the complex character — an electric entertainer named JDew — is molding.

At 28, the Greenville entrepreneur is in the midst of building a hub for entertainment content with his company Gamemaster Media. Think Ryan Seacrest, Dew says. Seacrest is known mainly for his on-air work, but he produces shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

“My ultimate goal in business is to create a company that creates its own content,” Dew says. “What that means is to be able to create an entertainment show in many different facets, whether it’s television, live entertainment or theater, and there’s no game that has to support it.”

Dew’s company developed a roulette shuffle game for video boards, which has been picked up by 20 sports teams, and is working on a scavenger hunt game show. He writes, choreographs and performs skits and in-game entertainment for the Drive and Clemson’s men’s basketball team. He even performs a one-man black history show.

With his deep commanding voice, high energy and huge grin, he is recognized and loved — he says people come up to him on the street and ask if he’ll emcee dog shows and children’s birthday parties. Perhaps he already is Greenville’s Seacrest. For the foreseeable future, he plans to stay both in front of and behind the camera. He plans to continue to improve the Drive’s off-field entertainment as the team’s minister of fun — a title also held by another talented entertainer connected to a South Atlantic League team.

“Me and Bill Murray have the same title, but he doesn’t know about me,” Dew says. “Yet.”


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Time for minor league trivia. The Greenville Drive, a Red Sox affiliate, tried to replicate Fenway Park with Fluor Field at the West End. The ballpark has a manual scoreboard, identical outfield dimensions, even a comparable Green Monster. The Monster out in left at Fluor Field is a bit shorter than the one at Fenway. How much shorter is it? Five feet, seven feet or nine feet? (Keep reading for the answer.)

Storm clouds rolled in and lightening flashed for hours near Fluor Field but the Drive and Rome Braves still tried to take the field and play. The tarp was on the field, so no pitches were thrown and no bats were swung during a 1-hour, 48-minute delay, but the teams still managed to entertain. Drive players pedaled tricycles normally reserved for on-field promotions, played tag and signed autographs. The Braves took off their cleats and used the tarp as a Slip ’n Slide. Then, in a battle for the loudest crowd reaction, the Drive and Braves began an on-field war. Holding bats as if they were loaded guns, they crawled on the turf toward each other. A truce was called before anyone was hurt. (The Drive have some photos from the short-lived battle on their Facebook page.)

In 2006, the childhood home of Shoeless Joe Jackson was moved three miles to a spot across the street from Fluor Field and converted into a museum commemorating his life. Jackson’s first professional contract came from his hometown Greenville Spinners. He earned $75 a month. He picked up his iconic nickname after he opted to play a game in his socks rather than spikes he hadn’t yet broken in. A Greenville News reporter dubbed him Shoeless Joe Jackson. The name stuck. His lifetime batting average of .356, remains third all time behind Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby, but he has never gained entrance to the Hall of Fame after he confessed his involvement in the Black Sox Scandal to a grand jury. Jackson and seven of his 1919 Chicago White Sox teammates intentionally lost the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Check out the museum for more of his story. Hours of operation are limited.

Want the answer? Fluor Field’s Green Monster is 30 feet tall, which is seven feet (and two inches) shorter than Fenway’s. In March, the Red Sox opened their new spring training facility, JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, which also has a Green Monster. That wall measures in at 40 feet.

And in random statistical news, no one sang the national anthem and no one threw the first pitch. Heck, we never ate dinner.

Carolyn@AMinorLeagueSeason.com ♦ @CarolynLaWell ♦ @AMinorLgSeason

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