Passion and hard work

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

Thirty-four summers ago, there weren't any Blue Jays to write about.

But when not writing about trotters, pacers and high school athletes on an Underwood typewriter, my love was coaching baseball.

After the Kingston Ponies won the senior eliminations in 1973, coach Gerry Wagar and I looked ahead to '74. We needed help behind the plate and recruited a strong-armed receiver with a booming bat from Carthage, N.Y., near Watertown.

After arranging a summer job for the import at a local supermarket, everything was set. At least that's what we figured upon leaving Canada's first capital for the Ottawa Journal in late October.

WITH PASSION

My groundwork on the summer job was a failure -- apparently the recruit needed a work visa -- but he played with a passion, caught well and hit .289, with three home runs and 17 RBIs.

And he never played another season. Whatever happened to Dave Trembley?

The former catcher was in the manager's office of the visiting clubhouse at the Rogers Centre on the weekend. It's a long, winding road from squatting at Megaffin Stadium in Kingston to managing the Baltimore Orioles.

Seeing Trembley, 55, for the first time since a 1974 tournament in Oshawa, we told him he hadn't changed a bit. He is only the seventh big-league manager who didn't play either in the majors or minors and the first since Carlos Tosca of the 2002 Blue Jays.

"I've had the same philosophy for the past 30 years," said Trembley while filling out his lineup card prior to an 8-6 Orioles win yesterday. "Be on time, be professional and respect the game.

"I don't golf and I don't network. I work hard. I've never given up and I've never given in. I was never obsessed with making the big leagues. I wanted to teach, coach and challenge players to get to the next level."

An upbeat outlook is needed when running the struggling Orioles, who took two of three from the Jays. And the baseball lifer, still has it after 22 years in pro ball, 20 as a minor-league manager -- at Kinston, Harrisburg, Charleston, Wichita, Orlando, Daytona, West Tennessee, Iowa, Bowie and the previous two seasons in Ottawa. He earned manager-of-the-year honours in three different leagues.

"I played and coached against his teams," said Jays first base coach Marty Pevy. "They all had one thing in common, they hustled."

Trembley played in Kingston after graduating State University of New York-Brockport.

"I played with guys who loved to compete, loved to talk about the game: Ron Earl, Roy Baron, Nick White, Don Goodridge," Trembley said. "Our lefty, Duke Murphy, he'd hit my mitt every time. A few I've seen in Syracuse or in Ottawa."

LIFEGUARD

When the summer job didn't work out, Trembley served as a life guard at Lake Ontario Park and umpired games.

He then taught at Hornell, N.Y., took his masters at Penn State and worked for three years in the Los Angeles city school district, coaching inner city kids.

That led to a five-year stint at Antelope Valley junior college and, in 1985, Dallas Green, then general manager of the Chicago Cubs, hired Trembley as a scout.

"With Dallas, there wasn't any grey area. He was a stickler for details, old-school, the way it should be," Trembley said. "In our meetings, he wanted the truth."

Trembley coached at class-A Wytheville in 1986, managed the next and every year since, save for 1990 when he served as the Pittsburgh Pirates' director of operations at Pirate City in Bradenton.

And it's why he credits former Bucs manager Jim Leyland as the man who has had the most influence on his career.

As a child of the 1960s, it wasn't Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris or Whitey Ford a young Trembley worshipped, but former Yankees manager Ralph Houk.

"I asked Andy MacPhail (O's president) if he could arrange a meeting next spring with Mr. Houk," Trembley said. "Houk was my idol."


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