(Photo Credit: Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)
Continuing along with our winter profiles of a few select members of the Dodgers‘ coaching and management crew, today we cruise down to the Triple-A level, where we take a quick look at Oklahoma City manager Bill Haselman.
Haselman is unique in the sense that he’s a mid-generation leader who has a distinct blend of both old school and new school ideals. He was a journeyman backstop who played with four different clubs over a 13-year major league career, most notably being Roger Clemens‘ personal catcher in Boston and having caught the legendary Randy Johnson in Seattle. Ask him who the most talented player he’s ever seen on the field is, and without hesitation, he’ll tell you it’s his former teammate and Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr.
A first round pick of the Rangers in the 1987 draft, Haselman hit .259 with 47 HR and 210 RBI over his lengthy course in the bigs, primarily as a backup catcher. His best season came in 1996, when he hit .274 with eight home runs and 34 RBI in a career-high 237 AB for the Red Sox. He hit .314 with six long balls in 105 AB for Texas in 1998.
Haselman grew up in California having attended Saratoga High School, and eventually went on to be a two-sport athlete at UCLA. He was a quarterback during his days on the gridiron, spending most of his collegiate career backing up the great Troy Aikman. And, ironically, during his minor league playing days, he put time in with the Tulsa Drillers and the Oklahoma City 89ers.
Not long after retiring as a player, he served as the Red Sox interim first-base coach in 2004, bullpen coach in 2005, and full-time first-base coach in 2006. Boston then offered him a position managing in the minor leagues which he ultimately refused, citing the need to spend more time with his family.
Still having the baseball itch, Haselman returned to the game in 2010 as the skipper of the Single-A Bakersfield Blaze, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Later moving on to manage Single-A Inland Empire as part of the Angels organization, he led the 66ers to the 2013 California League Championship. Shortly thereafter, the Dodgers snagged the 49-year-old manager, assigning him to lead the Low-A Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League.
In three short years, he’s accelerated through the ranks of the Dodgers farm system, having been promoted to manage High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2015, then heading to the Pacific Coast League last year to manage the Oklahoma City Dodgers. In his first year with OKC, he led his squad to the 2016 PCL Championship, but was eventually defeated by his counterparts, skipper and former Dodger catcher Rod Barajas and the El Paso Chihuahuas.
Haselman proclaims that his prime objective on the Dodgers’ farm is to make the road easier for players when transitioning from minor league ball to the majors, stating that the highest priority of the organization is the development of homegrown players.
“We try to teach them to guide themselves through the game — to develop them into players who think on their own, make decisions on their own, and make adjustments on their own. We don’t want to control them,” Haselman said. “We want them to learn how to make the right decisions and really learn how to play the game of baseball.”
Heading into 2017, there’s no question that Haselman will have the opportunity to put his philosophies into practice, as OKC will almost certainly be a frequent conduit for quite a few players transitioning to the big league roster. And at the end of the season, regardless of who is remaining on the Triple-A roster, there’s a very good chance he’ll have another stab at the highly coveted PCL Championship crown come September.