|Charlie Hayes, image- Jay Floyd|
A casual conversation about baseball overheard by front office personnel in the stands at Williamsport’s Bowman Field led a former Phillie back home to help guide the organization's stars of tomorrow.
Former Phillies regular Charlie Hayes was in attendance chatting up a friend about the game, while his son, newly drafted infielder Ke’Bryan Hayes, a first round draft choice of the Pirates in 2015, was on the field beginning his journey in professional baseball. Nearby, Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan became intrigued and initiated contact with Hayes in the stands.
“I had told him at that time, if there’s any way I can help, don’t be afraid to call me and, you know, he called me in November, said he had a spot for me and I said I’ll take it and here I am,” Hayes explained.
The time was ideal this off-season, according to Hayes, as his youngest child had moved out of the house and he finally felt the freedom to dive back into the schedule of professional baseball after spending years volunteering with youth organizations while his children were growing up.
Hired by the Phillies in November, Hayes was originally slated as the hitting coach for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phils. But with that club’s short-season schedule not beginning until June, after the MLB amateur draft, Hayes was pegged to join Dusty Wathan’s Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs coaching staff until that time.
Despite this being his first season coaching at the pro level, Hayes, who was the Phillies' starting third baseman from 1989 through 1991 and then returned to fill the role again in 1995, feels he can help the legacy of Phillies from the past live on by instilling things he learned from some well-known names from his own playing days.
"I had (John) Vukovich and I had (Larry) Bowa and I had Denis Menke and also Jim Fregosi," Hayes said. "As a young player, you kind of take it for granted, but I’m blessed to have been around those types of people because they taught me preparation, they taught me how to be a pro. And those are some of the things I am hoping to pass on to the kids that are here."
Hayes, who made a remarkable catch on a liner to nab the final out of Terry Mulholland's no-hitter in 1990 and played with the Giants, Yankees and Rockies among other teams, remains fond of Philadelphia and expresses considerable appreciation for the opportunity the organization gave him to become a regular in the major leagues.
Already, in a short amount of time with the IronPigs, the players have taken a liking to Hayes, making it clear they value the manner that he is able to keep things loose and fun as he teaches the lessons that will prove key for many of them to take the final step toward the big leagues.
So, while the plan is to ship Hayes back to join the GCL team in June, the IronPigs' skipper joked that he may not allow that to happen.
"You never know," Wathan said. "I told him, 'If we win enough games, I’ll keep you. I won’t let you go!'"