Team Israel manager receives Baseball America's lifetime achievement award
Jerry Weinstein 'shocked' to be in the same company as MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.
A baseball manager has to have his eyes all over the field, plan ahead and know all the stats about the opposing team. What he might not know, however, is that he's being considered for a lifetime achievement award.
"I was shocked," Jerry Weinstein told us when we reached him by phone.
The 75-year-old manager of Team Israel at the World Baseball Classic last year just won the Tony Gwynn Lifetime Achievement Award. Previous recipients of the prize, which is handed out annually by Baseball America, include Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. and Augue Garrido, one of the winningest coaches in college baseball history. The award is named for the legendary San Diego Padres right fielder who not only had a Hall of Fame playing career, but was also a successful coach at his alma mater of San Diego State.
Weinstein revealed that receiving the call was humbling. "Whoa, I'm getting an award that Cal Ripken got? You gotta be kidding me."
Infielder Scott Burcham (right) of Israel high fives with Manager Jerry Weinstein (left) after the World Baseball Classic game between the Netherlands and Israel. (Photo: Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)
While Weinstein himself may have been surprised, the folks behind the award said it was an easy decision. "When picking our Tony Gwynn Lifetime Achievement winner we are looking for someone who has made a lasting impact in baseball," explained JJ Cooper, the executive editor of Baseball America, in an interview with From The Grapevine. "It's hard to think of anyone who has made a larger lasting impact than Jerry Weinstein. He's coached successfully at the high school, junior college, Division I, minor league and major league levels and internationally. As much impact as he's made as a coach, his ability to learn about the game and then share that knowledge with others may end up being his largest legacy. Many coaches are better coaches now because they've learned from him."
Added Cooper: "What also stands out about Jerry is how well-rounded he is. There are coaches who understand hitting and coaches who understand pitching and others who understand catching or infield defense or base-running. Weinstein is that rare coach who has an expert-level understanding of a variety of facets of the game. He's a catching expert and a pitching expert and a hitting expert."
Those talents were on full display as Weinstein shepherded Team Israel to victory after victory throughout the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Referring to famous teams in pop culture, ESPN dubbed the underdog Israeli club as "essentially the Mighty Ducks, Hickory High and the Jamaican bobsled team all rolled into one.” Their rise, stunning the international baseball community with four straight wins, brought a sense of history to the tournament. The Israeli team beat Korea in extra innings, shocked Chinese Taipei, defeated Cuba and played the Netherlands (twice!) before falling to Japan in their final game.
"It was great. It exceeded expectations," Weinstein said of the experience coaching Team Israel. "I had no idea that it was gonna be so impactful for so many people. "I thought well, it'd certainly be impactful for baseball in Israel. And it will certainly be impactful for those of us that are involved with the team, but I didn't realize it would have such global impact. I got notes and emails, and texts from all over the world. That surprised me."
Nowadays, Weinstein is working in player development and scouting for the Colorado Rockies and makes instructional baseball videos on the side. He's also active on Twitter where he pens professional analysis of major league plays for his more than 31,000 followers.
And while he may be receiving an award celebrating his life's work, Weinstein tells us he's far from done. "Every day I'm trying to do something to make myself better, or help someone else become better. I'm going to continue to do what I enjoy doing. I've got a lot left."
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