On Rangers Hitting Coach History and Awkward Moments

(I wrote this blog feature for WFAA.com on May 11, 2015.)

Here’s a question for you: Who succeeded Clint Hurdle as the hitting coach after the 2010 World Series season? If you guessed Thad Bosley, you were correct, but why are you reading his name today?

Since the Rangers just played the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida, a whole bunch of thoughts went running through my baseball brain. From Cliff Lee’s dominance to Nelson Cruz’ boomstick blasts to Michael Young’s controversial check-swing to playoff series winning champagne/beer clubhouse showers making for radio fun, there’s plenty of pleasant Rangers memories from St. Pete.

Let’s go from those happy thoughts to late May of the 2011 World Series season when the Rangers visited the Rays. I was in my second season as the radio pregame/postgame show role. I had added the play-by-play/color commentating responsibility for that series, though, and that’s why I was on the road for that series. The Rangers had just shifted John Rhadigan back to the studio, and Dave Barnett moved from the radio to the TV booth. Steve Busby and I joined Eric Nadel on radio for the rest of the season.

Anyway, my pregame role included the “Warm-up Show.” That’s the 4-minute pregame interview heard on the Rangers radio network pregame show just before the first pitch. For a pregame interview in that Rays series, I thought it would be appropriate to interview Johnny Narron—then the Rangers assistant hitting coach and who is currently the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels triple-A team in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In the off-season before that 2011 season, I read Josh Hamilton’s book, “Beyond Belief,” and I thought Tampa would be the right setting to talk to Johnny about Josh Hamilton and their longstanding relationship as well as Narron’s impact on other Rangers hitters such as Mike Napoli. After all, that was “The Year of the Napoli” which was coined by then Rays manager Joe Maddon.

I went at The Trop early one game, and I waited out a conversation Johnny was having with hitting coach Thad Bosley and manager Ron Washington. Their deep talk on infielders took place on the visitor’s bench on the third base side, and I sat at the end of the bench waiting out the conversation while eavesdropping to get an education on infielders mechanics.

When their talk concluded, I asked Johnny to join me for the interview. He had never joined me on the pregame show, and I was looking forward to hearing his stories.

However, he respectfully declined the offer because he felt that all hitting discussions should be with the hitting coach. He’s such a nice guy, and I didn’t want to press him into doing the interview. So, I turned the page as time was ticking closer to needing an interview. Just a few feet away was hitting coach Thad Bosley. I asked him to join me for the interview.

Then, it became awkward. Bosley had heard my exchange with Johnny—which I didn’t think was a big deal. Even though I had wanted to talk about Hamilton, I shifted my mindset to “let’s breakdown the lineup” before I asked him to join me for the pregame interview.

Bosley declined the interview! Honestly, I can only remember in my entire broadcasting career just a few times that pregame interview requests were turned down. It’s a painless four minutes, but this became an uncomfortable exchange. It seemed like Bosley was offended that I had asked Johnny first. I thought he was just giving me a hard time and joking with me.

He wasn’t. He persisted on that topic. He kept saying that I asked Johnny first, and “it’s his interview.” I explained to him what my topics were going to be with Johnny, but it didn’t matter. My Bosley exchange was never heated, just awkward. I was waiting for Bosley to say, “just kidding. Let’s talk.”

Unbeknownst to me, there were other team personnel that were listening to that exchange between Johnny, Bosley and me. I found that out in the next half hour to 45 minutes as I sought out an interviewee in the tunnel just outside the clubhouse and around the underground batting cage at The Trop. I encountered a bunch of Ranger players sporting wry smiles accompanied by sarcastic remarks about my recent dugout conversation.

It was then that I realized just how much friction existed between Bosley and the players. About a week later, the Rangers fired Bosley. Certainly, it was not because of the way he reacted about a pregame interview, but I wasn’t surprised when the Rangers made that change.

Back to present day, will the Rangers continue to win games following their recent road trip? Or, will the thought of changing the hitting coach be the answer to the current Rangers problems?

You can welcome Bryan to the Baseball Texas team on Twitter at @BryanDolgin.

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