ONEONTA — Joe Hughes has a long way to go.
Of course, he’s just getting started.
Longtime Oneonta High athletic director and baseball coach Hughes opens his first season as a New York Collegiate Baseball League manager at 5 p.m. today, when his Oneonta Outlaws visit the Sherrill Silversmiths.
“We had full practices Tuesday and Wednesday and all but two of our guys are here,” said Hughes, a former professional baseball player whose coaching resume includes assistant gigs at the Single-A, NYCBL and college levels, as well as a 404-204 record in 27 seasons as the head of the Oneonta High varsity program. “The level of competition and the pitching has been very impressive so far. Some guys can throw the ball very well in the upper 80s and low 90s, and they have good secondary pitches to go along with it.”
Hughes will be managing a 25-man roster that includes Oneonta High graduates Michael Calkins and Sean Getman, along with OHS senior Chris Pindar and a handful of standouts from upstate New York colleges, among others. The roster also features right-handed pitchers Jake Cryts and Tsuyoshi Horibata from Division I Binghamton University, University at Albany catcher Evan Harasta and Cortland State infielder Mitch Hollander.
Adding to the local flavor are right-handed pitchers Alec Romanowski of Stevenson University and Monmouth University’s Reid Van Woert, who opposed Hughes when they played high school ball at Maine-Endwell and Johnson City, respectively.
“We’re still hemming and hawing about the lineup,” said Hughes, whose coaching staff includes former OHS standout and current Oneonta State assistant Lance Ratchford. “We’ll put one together and throw it out there. Everyone who’s here wants to get some at-bats and some innings, so we’ll see what we come up with.”
Hughes said today’s opening-day starter for the Outlaws will be Wofford College right-hander Matt Milburn, who will be followed in the rotation by the University of Georgia right-hander Luke Crumley, Cryts, Grand Canyon University righty Malcolm Purdy and lefty Calkins of Division II champion University of Tampa. Should the weather hold, Calkins will start Tuesday night’s game at Damaschke Field against the Syracuse Salt Cats.
“Mike’s not here yet because Tampa is being honored for its national championship at the Tampa Bay Rays game (today),” said Hughes, who added that Purdy is driving to Oneonta and should join the team soon.
Hughes also said Pindar will start in center field today.
“For him and anybody who doesn’t see 85 mph-plus on a daily basis, it’s going to be an adjustment for any hitter because we’re not seeing 85-plus from anybody,” said Hughes, whose pitching staff will be coached by Atlee Pearson. “He’s going to have to make an adjustment, but he has a solid foundation and good mechanics to make that adjustment.”
Last season, Calkins, Pindar and Rhode Island College-bound Getman helped Oneonta High to its first state championship in baseball.
First-year Outlaws owner Gary Laing said Thursday night that Saturday’s game against Sherrill at Damaschke Field will offer free admission thanks to Oneonta State, which is sponsoring the home opener.
“About half of our nights have been sponsored by big corporations,” said Laing, who also owns The Shipping Room in Oneonta. “Sunday night is Amphenol Night and kids 12-and-under are free. It’s unbelievable. It’s like every other day, a big company has bought a night. I can’t say enough about the local support we’ve received.”
Laing said all of the season box seats have been sold and the Outlaws had to add 160 feet of fencing in right field — above the existing outfield fence — to accommodate an increase in the number of sponsored signs.
“That goes from right field to the blackout part in center field,” Laing said of the addition, which is 10 feet behind the original fence and will be considered a home run if a batter hits it. “That’s all new people. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Laing said preparing for the 2013 season has been a whirlwind since he purchased the Oneonta Outlaws’ brand from former owners Keith Rogers and Dan Scaring in December. Rogers and Scaring brought their college summer baseball franchise from Saratoga to Damaschke Field in 2010, months after the Oneonta Tigers of the New York Penn-League left for Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn.
“I want to get the first night over,” Laing said. “It’s like The Shipping Room at Christmas time. You can only prepare so much, then it just has to happen. You work out things and nothing will be perfect, but hopefully everybody has a good time. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Laing said promotions will be common during the Outlaws’ 22-game home schedule, including senior discounts, concession-stand deals and kid-oriented entertainment.
“We’re doing a lot of special stuff throughout the season,” Laing said. “It comes down to a situation where I hope the Oneonta Outlaws are winning, but people will be having so much fun, they won’t know if we’re winning or losing.”
The 2013 roster for the Oneonta Outlaws of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Names followed by bats/throws, height, weight, hometown and college.
Brandon Agar, R/R, 6-4, 195, Snellville, Ga. (North Georgia College)
Michael Calkins, L/L, 6-4, 220, Oneonta, (University of Tampa)
Luke Crumley, R/R, 6-6, 195, Cleveland, Ga. (University of Georgia)
Jake Cryts, R/R, 6-2, 210, Schuylkill Haven, Pa. (Binghamton University)
Matt Goreham, R/R, 6-3, 235, Quincy, Mass. (Northeastern University)
Heath Holder, R/R, 6-4, 205, Loganville, Ga. (University of Georgia)
Tsuyoshi Horibata, R/R, 5-10, 182, Phillipines (Binghamton University)
Corey Kafka, R/R, 6-0, 212, Ringgold, Ga. (Mercer University)
Matt Milburn, R/R, 6-2, 195, Dallas, Texas (Wofford College)
Zach Moreau, R/R, 6-3, 160, Maypearl, Texas (Grambling State University)
Malcolm Purdy, L/R, 6-6, 215, Phoenix, Ariz. (Grand Canyon University)
Alec Romanowski, R/R, 6-5, 190, Endwell (Stevenson University)
Brandon Stephens, R/R, 6-0, 205, Marietta, Ga. (Univeristy of Georgia)
Reid Van Woert, R/R, 6-3, 177, Johnson City (Monmouth University)
Evan Harasta, R/R, 6-3, 215, Webster (Albany University)
Josh Treff, R/R, 5-11, 175, Salem, N.H. (Northeastern University)
Sean Getman, R/R, 6-2, 195, Oneonta (Bridgton Academy)
Derek Hirsch, R/R, 5-10, 160, Cornelius, N.C. (Wofford College)
Mitch Hollander, R/R, 5-11, 185, Woodbury (Cortland State)
Howard Joe, R/R, 6-3, 210, Atlanta, Ga. (Mercer University)
Ryan Tomita, R/R, 5-11, 175, Phoenix, Ariz. (Grand Canyon University)
Spencer Duffie, R/R, 6-0, 177, Augusta, Ga. (Mercer University)
Brian Kraft, L/R, 6-1, 205, Eagle, Ind. (Grand Canyon University)
Jake Levine, L/R, 5-10, 175, Newton, Mass. (Brown University)
Chris Pindar, R/L, 5-8, 175, Oneonta (Oneonta High)
Manager: Joe Hughes, first season.
Assistant Coach: Lance Ratchford, first season.
Pitching Coach: Atlee Pearson, first season.
June 7: at Sherrill Silversmiths, 5 p.m.
June 8: vs. Sherrill Silversmiths, 7 p.m.
June 9: vs. Sherrill Silversmiths, 5 p.m.
June 10: at Syracuse Salt Cats, 5 p.m.
June 11: vs. Syracuse Salt Cats, 7 p.m.
June 12: at Syracuse Salt Cats, 5 p.m.
June 13: at Syracuse Salt Cats, 5 p.m.
June 14: vs. Syracuse Jr. Chiefs, 7 p.m.
June 15: vs. Geneva Twins, 7 p.m.
June 16: at Geneva Red Wings, 5 p.m.
June 17: at Geneva Red Wings, 7 p.m.
June 18: at Syracuse Jr. Chiefs (2), 7 p.m.
June 19: vs. Geneva Red Wings, 7 p.m.
June 20: at Athletes In Action, 7 p.m.
June 21: vs. Syracuse Jr. Chiefs, 7 p.m.
June 23: at Syracuse Salt Cats, 6 p.m.
June 24: at Sherrill Silversmiths, 5 p.m.
x-June 25: vs. Albany Athletics, 7 p.m.
June 26: at Sherrill Silversmiths, 5 p.m.
June 27: vs. Sherrill Silversmiths, 7 p.m.
June 28: vs. Syracuse Jr. Chiefs, 7 p.m.
June 29: vs. Syracuse Jr. Chiefs, 7 p.m.
x-June 30: vs. Waterford Nolan Propane, 5 p.m.
July 1: at Geneva Twins, 7 p.m.
July 2: vs. Geneva Twins, 7 p.m.
July 3: at Geneva Twins, 7 p.m.
July 4: vs. Geneva Twins, 7 p.m.
July 5: at Syracuse Salt Cats, 7 p.m.
July 6: vs. Syracuse Salt Cats, 7 p.m.
July 7: vs. Syracuse Salt Cats, 5 p.m.
July 10: vs. Geneva Red Wings, 7 p.m.
July 11: vs. Athletes In Action, 7 p.m.
July 12: at Niagara Power, 7 p.m.
July 13: vs. Niagara Power, 7 p.m.
July 14: at Syracuse Jr. Chiefs, 3 p.m.
July 15: at Syracuse Jr. Chiefs, 3 p.m.
July 16: vs. Geneva Twins, 7 p.m.
July 17: at Sherrill Silversmiths, 5 p.m.
July 18: at Sherrill Silversmiths, 5 p.m.
July 19: vs. Sherrill Silversmiths, 7 p.m.
July 20: vs. Sherrill Silversmiths, 7 p.m.