A few minutes with baseball legend Willie Randolph
Willie Randolph is a former Major League Baseball player, coach and manager. Throughout his lengthy career, he won six World Series championships, was awarded the Silver Slugger award and is a Monument Park honoree. At the age of 65, Randolph is currently still contributing his expertise to the sport he loves as one of the coaches for the United States Baseball team. Randolph was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn and started playing for the New York Yankees at the young age of 21. Even though he was young,as he explained in an interview with the Justice, “I always played against and with guys that were older than me, so I was never really intimidated. I would get maybe a little anxious—I think that it is ok to be anxious.” At a young age, Randolph played baseball and tried to perfect his craft. Even though hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports and most people claim that you have to be born with the talent, he believes that “you can be born with certain gifts, guys, but you really have to work on your craft and practice and you have to really love the game because it is a really frustrating game.”
As a player and a manager, having a good relationship with other players on the team is something that is very important to Randolph, because it is essential for players to communicate on the field without actually speaking. His key to get a cohesive team environment is trust. In the same interview with the Justice, he stated, “You have to earn trust and try to get to know them as people, not just as ballplayers. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that this is a fun game.” As a manager, he has worked with a lot of different personalities in MLB, but he said that his secret to handling all the different personalities is that he likes to “find guys on my team that have different personalities and let them show their personalities and flourish and be who they are, I don’t think you can try to mold players into one way; be yourself, be who you are and have fun.” Currently, Randolph is one of the coaches of the United States Baseball team. Randolph’s team recently finished fourth behind Mexico, meaning that they did not yet qualify for the 2020 Olympics yet. Even though the team lost, Randolph believes that the team will “get the job done” in March.
As said above, Randolph has a career filled with accomplishments. Some players can only dream of going to the Olympics: “It would be pretty much the cherry on top. I just want to be a part of that energy in representing the United States in the Olympics. That is something that I have never done before, and I am excited about it, and that to me would be a really cool thing to have a gold medal with a United States winning team.”
We also had the opportunity to speak to Randolph about how baseball has been evolving in the way players play and the new technological advancements. He believes that even though analytics is a huge part of the game, a manager needs to remember that if you analyze too much, you forget that the players are human. You need to have a nice blend of analytics and gut instinct. In the interview, he said, “Joe Torre always said to me, 'Willie never forgets the game is played with a heartbeat ...If you get so analytical, the players think that they are just a number; you lose that human element.’”