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Hot Corner: Shrider is the right man for the job

Green Bay Bullfrogs manager Kirk Shrider is in his first season with the club. Rich Palzewic Photo

By Rich Palzewic

Editor’s note: The Hot Corner is a sports column that will appear in the print edition of The Press when room permits. Check thepress.media for any columns that may not appear in print.

GREEN BAY – In terms of baseball, Green Bay Bullfrogs manager Kirk Shrider has been there and done that.

A native of California, Shrider was hired just a few days before the 2018 season began after former manager Chris Sabo didn’t return.

Shrider also currently serves as an assistant coach at Hope International University, an NAIA program located in Fullerton, California, where he recently completed his third season on the Royals’ coaching staff.

Prior to Shrider’s stint in Green Bay began, he was an assistant coach for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the Northwoods League, where he helped the team win its first NWL championship in 2016.

He was also a big part in Rapids’ league-record 52-win season in 2017.

Shrider has also been a high-school baseball coach, a professional scout for the Milwaukee Brewers (1993-95) and spent time in the Western Baseball Association and the Gold Coast Collegiate League.

Expecting Sabo to be the man I’d talk to after games this season, I was a little nervous learning Shrider got the job just a few days before the season started.

I’m not one to like a lot of change, but I quickly learned it wouldn’t be a problem.

The first time I met him, he informed me that win or lose, he would “gentle” after a game – what a relief it was to hear that.

In an early-season contest in which the ‘Frogs lost 13-1 and his pitchers walked eight batters, Shrider asked me, “Were you here for the whole game?” When I responded with a “yes,” his reply was short and sweet.

“I’m sorry you had to see that debacle,” he laughed.

I know Shrider said he would be easy to talk to, but even I have been amazed at how carefree he is.

Don’t mistake his easy-going demeanor as a sign of not caring – he’s passionate about the game for sure, but he knows I’m there to do a job and he respects that.

I’ve seen a fair amount of losses this summer – so much so that Shrider said I was “bad luck.”

On two occasions, he spent a good 10-15 minutes after the game talking with his crew in the outfield, thus keeping me at Joannes Stadium longer than I wanted to be.

It made it easier to handle when he apologized for keeping me late.

Ninety-eight percent of the coaches that I’ve ever dealt with in my career have always been classy and taken the high road, but I can think of a few instances over the years where that hasn’t been the case.

I understand your team may have just gotten shellacked by the opposition, but give some credit to the other team and thank me for coming.

I never have to worry about that with Shrider.

Often times after a game, we barely talked about the game itself. We’d talk about his youth growing up, how kids need to be outside playing more and his surfing days in California.

In a funny incident halfway through the season, an opposing manager made a big scene about a call and got himself ejected.

Talking to Shrider about it, he just laughed and said, “I don’t think something like that is really necessary – the umpire isn’t going to change his mind.”

Maybe I saw him question a few calls, but he surely never went berserk like that unnamed manager did.

Shrider spent the summer living in a hotel suite with another one of the assistant coaches. He didn’t get to see his family and has to manage 72 games in 76 days, often with long road trips on a bus.

After my daughter and I went strawberry picking this past June, I thought he could use some berries, so I brought him some. You could tell that he was genuinely pleased with my sharing. He even returned my Tupperware container in good order.

If you’re a coach and you deal with the media, keep this in mind: We are there to do a job – don’t take your losses or frustrations out on one of us. We will definitely come back to another game.

Take Shrider’s lead and be a class act.

Thanks for a great year Coach. I hope you’re back next summer to lead the team to that elusive NWL championship in the new stadium.

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