JACKSON, Tenn. -- Tom Herr could have stayed around the game of professional
baseball longer than he did.
As a second baseman, Herr spent the prime
of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played in three World
Series and in 1985 was a National League All-Star. He retired as a player after
the 1991 season at 35 years of age, and he could have stuck around the game to
pursue a coaching and managing career.
But Herr had other priorities on
which he wanted to spend his time.
“At that time I had two sons and my
oldest son was about 10 or 11 years old,” Herr said. “I wanted to be a part of
their school experience. I decided that it was more important than trying to
hang with a team either as a player or in a coaching or managing career. That’s
not what I wanted to do.”
So Herr went back home to Lancaster, Pa., to
spend time with his wife and his two sons. They were more important to Herr than
a managing career was.
He has no regrets.
“I really enjoyed being
home and being a part of my kids’ growing up experience and getting to
participate with them in their high school athletics,” he said. “I was involved
in coaching and involved with kids, but it wasn’t at the professional
A life in baseball tends to affect adversely players’ families.
Because of so much time on the road, players often have to sacrifice their
family life. The problem would have been the same had Herr decided to pursue
“Oftentimes families split up because of that,” Herr said. “The
game disrupts so many families. I certainly didn’t want that to happen to my
That’s why Herr left professional baseball behind -- at least
for a while.
“I wouldn’t trade those years for anything that I was able
to see my kids going through high school and playing sports and coaching their
teams,” he said.
And now, 14 years later -- after both sons have left
home -- Herr has been given a chance to pursue the managing career he delayed
for the sake of his family.
The Lancaster Barnstormers are in their
inaugural season as a minor league baseball team and are affiliated with the
Atlantic League, an independent league of eight teams in the New
Jersey-Pennsylvania-New Hampshire area.
Since he lives in Lancaster, Herr
was an obvious candidate for the managing position. He interviewed and got the
job. The timing couldn’t have been better.
Herr’s youngest son Jordan
graduated from high school in May and is now a student at the University of
Delaware, where he will play baseball. Herr’s oldest son Aaron was a shortstop
with the Springfield Cardinals, the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis
Cardinals this past season and recently signed a minor league contract with
the Cincinnati Reds with an invitation to spring training.
call it a coincidence that a minor league baseball team started up in Herr’s
hometown the same year his youngest son left home. Some might say Herr’s
selection as manager has nothing to do with the decision he made years ago to
sacrifice his career for the sake of his family.
But it seems pretty
clear that there’s more involved here than just coincidence, and that God’s hand
has been involved in this process. Maybe the Lord is honoring Herr’s decision to
put his family first and has now provided Herr with an opportunity to do what he
has desired for a long time.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about
that,” Herr said. “This is just His way of giving me the best of both
Tim Ellsworth writes this column, a part of his First Person series, from his home in Jackson, Tenn. Write to
him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his blog at www.timellsworth.com for
additional commentary on sports, religion, culture and politics.