A second career
Linfield's Brosius shares major-league wisdom in coaching role
APPLETON, Wis. — The dugouts that Linfield head coach Scott Brosius inhabits these days aren’t the length, breadth nor luxury of those he occupied during a 11-year major-league career.
But Brosius is enjoying his second career as much as his first one.
“To me the stage doesn’t matter,” he said Monday from the 2013 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship. “When you’re trying to reach the pinnacle of where you’re at, the results mean the same.”
They were mixed on this, the fourth of the five-day tournament. His Wildcats lost 6-4 to Ithaca, but advanced to Tuesday’s championship game at Appleton’s Fox Cities Stadium on the strength of only one loss.
A Linfield alumnus, Brosius is in his sixth season as the head baseball coach at his alma mater. The Wildcats (41-8) have prospered under his tutelage, winning four Northwest Conference titles, three NCAA regional titles and the regionals’ corresponding DIII championship berths.
They await the winner of Tuesday’s noon ET game between Ithaca and Southern Maine, with the championship game set for 3:30 p.m.
Brosius has no crystal ball, but he likes the focus and intensity of the current Wildcats, saying their love of competition has been palpable this season.
“Baseball is meant to be fun, and you've got to enjoy being out there,” he said. “You have to, all the work that goes into it, the off-seasons, the weight lifting — everything we do away from the field — you have to have a passion to do this. And so the games are the reward for all the work.”
He has much that he can pass down. Selected by Oakland in the 20th round of the 1987 draft, he left Linfield after his junior season to play first in the A’s farm system and eventually at the major-league level. Brosius may be best known for his 1990s New York Yankees years, playing in the 1998, '99 and '00 World Series and winning Most Valuable Player honors for the ’98 World Series. He also won a Golden Glove Award and played in the ’98 All Star Game.
Returning home to Oregon — he completed his undergraduate degree at Linfield in 2002 — he sensed he might want to coach, but needed some time to decide.
“When I stopped playing, it wasn’t with a special plan in place,” Brosius said. “I just knew it was a time to be home and be around the kids more than I was. In the first couple years, honestly, I was coaching a lot of Little League teams. I was coaching girls basketball, coaching my daughters, things like that. It was just something that happened over time.”
Gradually, he returned to Linfield to work, spending five years as an assistant to his college coach Scott Carnahan. When Brosius knew he wanted to take the next step, and asked Carnahan, also Linfield’s athletic director, for guidance, Carnahan surprised him by suggesting Brosius succeed him, allowing Carnahan to concentrate on AD duties.
“So that’s what we did,” said Brosius, who stresses that he inherited a solid program. “I took over as the head coach and he stayed on as the pitching coach and it’s been a great situation.”
“We see ourselves as a program now that we should potentially win our conference and make it to the regional tournament, and at least have a chance to make it to the [DIII] world series every year,” said Tim Wilson, Linfield’s senior captain and left fielder.
Brosius’ effect can’t be denied. Per Wilson, the former major-leaguer prefers that his players call him, “Bro” instead of “Coach.”
“He’s just an amazing guy,” Wilson said. “He’s there for us whenever we need him. He’s just so humble about his pro career. He’s just a great family guy and a great coach and a great friend. I couldn’t imagine being here and playing without him. He’s been a great reason for all the success I’ve had in left field.”
Brosius says he tries to refrain from war stories; he senses players’ eyes rolling. But he does teach what he feels is important — “I try to share that I remember that this game is not easy” — plus, lessons from players who exceeded his own talent level.
“How do you approach the game, a season, the mentality you take,” Brosius said. “Having been a part of winning teams, that’s important to open that up and share.”
Occasionally he shares his bat speed, taking batting practice with Linfield players.
“He’ll get up there and take a few swings,” Wilson said. “And he can still swing it pretty well. He’ll put a few out there in batting practice once in a while. But it’s all in fun and he really enjoys coaching and being able to share that experience with us.”
Brosius also enjoys sharing the experiences of former teammates, coaches and front-office friends still at the major-league level, particularly with the Yankees. His long friendship with manager Joe Girardi has him marveling at Girardi’s handling of an injury-depleted roster this season.
“I gave him a text three or four weeks ago saying, ‘I don’t know how you’re doing this, Joe, but if you’re really, really desperate, I should be available sometime in June,’ Brosius said laughing.