New Marlins skipper pitched at USM, Carey
By now, you’ve seen where Dan Jennings, a former baseball player at Southern Miss and William Carey College, has become the manager of the Miami Marlins. He has not coached or managed in baseball since 1986 and even then it was at the high school level at Davidson in Mobile.
Understandably, many are asking: Why?
Why would the Marlins put a man in uniform who has not been in one in 30 years?
Why would Jennings step aside from his job of Marlins general manager to become the manager?
Even Jennings’ mother asked her son: “Are you crazy?”
Jennings is far from crazy says his former Southern Miss teammate, Bert Stephens, who played second base when Jennings pitched for USM in 1979, ’80 and ’81.
Said Stephens, who now lives in Slidell, La., and is in pharmaceutical sales: “Danny was extremely knowledgeable as a college baseball player. He was insightful. He saw things before other people did. He has all the traits you want in a baseball man. He is definitely a leader.”
Stephens coached under Hall of Famer Corky Palmer at Meridian Community College, where he was replaced by current USM coach Scott Berry. He remembers Jennings scouting for first the Cincinnati Reds and then the Seattle Mariners.
“He left the Davidson job to go into scouting, and he just kept moving up the ladder,” Stephens said.
Jennings became the Tampa Bay Rays’ scouting director in 1995, and joined the Marlins as vice president of player personnel in 2002. He was promoted to general manager in 2013.
The Marlins have been through six managers since 2010, which doesn’t seem a harbinger to much success.
Stephens believes that given the chance, Jennings will succeed.
“He knows baseball inside and out,” Stephens said. “And like I say, he’s a great leader. His dad was a long-time, highly successful high school football coach and I think he learned leadership skills from his dad.
“I just think the players will relate to him and play hard for him, and that’s really the key to coaching and managing in baseball or any sport.”
And how was Jennings as a college pitcher?
“He threw mid-to-high 80s fastball and had a good curve,” Stephens said. “He wasn’t overpowering but he could get you out.”
Jennings signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees, but lasted less than a season before taking the high school job at Davidson.
“He’s a good guy,” Stephens said. “I know people are questioning the move, both by the Marlins and by him, but it won’t surprise me if he’s successful.”