Ernie Young Hoping Team USA Experience Helps Yield Major League Job
To manage in the major leagues.
"My ultimate goal is to manage in the big leagues, that's what I want to do," Young told FanHouse. "I played the game to play in the major leagues, and now I am managing and I am going to manage in the major leagues. I honestly believe I will continue to grow as a manager and as a coach to reach my goal."
Young, 41, will continue on that path next season as manager of the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, in the Midwest League.
Young spent time in that league as a player during an 18-year professional career that saw him play for five teams in the big leagues over eight seasons. Young also won an Olympic gold medal for the United States in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Young's immediate plans, however, include R&R after he made his successful managerial debut with Team USA here in the Pan Am Qualifying tournament.
Team USA dominated pool play in the 12-team tourney, winning nine straight to qualify for both the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and for the next International Baseball Federation World Cup, tentatively scheduled for next fall. Team USA entered medal round play as the top seed, but was beaten by the Dominican Republic, 7-2.
A rain-out in the bronze-medal game on Wednesday with Venezuela left the U.S. tied for third, while the Dominican Republic beat Cuba later that night for the gold.
The defeat did little to temper Young's enthusiasm. Included in Team USA's string of victories was a 4-1 triumph over Cuba on Monday and an earlier 8-3 win over the Dominicans.
"It doesn't tell me anything because we lost that we are not a good team," Young said. "That day the Dominican team was better than us. It's not going to be every time that the best team wins; it's just the better team that day wins."
A smiling Young, who retired following the 2007 season, admitted to differences between playing and managing.
Young began his playing career in 1990, when the Oakland Athletics drafted him in the 11th round out of Lewis College in Illinois. He moved steadily up through the ranks, landing in Oakland for a taste of the big leagues in 1994.
Young spent parts of seven more seasons in the majors, including all of 1996, when he batted .242 with 19 homers and 64 RBI for the A's. He also saw time with Kansas City, Arizona, Detroit and Cleveland.
"I was talking to some of the guys the other day, and it's a whole lot easier playing than managing," Young said, smiling. "Being up at-bat in a crucial situation, I am never sweating at all. Here, they (opponents) get a couple guys on base, and I start perspiring like crazy; this is killing me."
Young relied on a veteran coaching staff here at the qualifying tourney.
He was joined by pitching coach Kirk Champion, hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham and assistant coaches Jay Bell, Carlos Tosca and Rolando "Roly" de Armas. Young, Champion and de Armas are all veterans of past USA Baseball professional teams, including the 2009 gold medal-winning World Cup team.
Tosca, who was named Atlanta's new bench coach under Fredi Gonzalez just a few days ago, interviewed Thursday with the Pirates as part of the club's ongoing search for a new manager.
"From day one, I told them that I don't know everything about managing, nor do I proclaim to know everything so I am going to solicit your advice and your opinion," Young said. "I want input from everybody in order to make our team what it is, a team. We are not the White Sox, the Cubs or the Dodgers. This is Team USA, and this is the only organization that can say that."
Young's initial steps across the baselines have been enjoyable, and he plans to keep working to achieve his goal to manage in the big leagues.
After serving a season as the hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox's rookie-level team, he was named manager of Single-A Kannapolis (N.C.) prior to the 2009 season. Young also served as the hitting coach for the 2009 World Cup team. Naturally, he'd be honored to be considered as manager for Team USA in the 2011 Pan Am Games.
"I was disappointed that we lost (to the Dominican Republic) but we came here and accomplished our main goal to qualify," Young said. "I know our guys gave it all we had. The way we played in pool play was championship-caliber play."
FanHouse TV goes behind the scenes at the Pan American Qualifying tournament: