Former Winnipeg Goldeyes manager Hal Lanier just finished having his first summer off from baseball in 16 years but he found his way to Shaw Park on Friday to have a visit on the field with Goldeyes manager Rick Forney.
Lanier, who managed the Goldeyes from 1996-2005, paid a visit to Shaw Park on Friday prior to the third game of the best-of-five American Association semifinal final series.
He happened to be in Winnipeg this week for family reasons. His wife Pam’s son and his wife are expecting the arrival of their third child, another granddaughter for the Lanier family, any day now. Lanier and Pam arrived to visit and help out for a couple of weeks and it turned out the Goldeyes were playing their biggest game of the season so far.
"We had the trip planned but I stay in contact with Andrew and Rick and I keep up with it (Goldeyes) all the time. I’ve got to," said Lanier, 70, who said he listens to Paul Edmonds and the TSN 1290 broadcasts of the Goldeyes’ games on the internet. "I miss the game. I keep up with the Goldeyes and the previous teams I’ve managed and keep up with the players’ stats.
Lanier had managed the Normal CornBelters of the Frontier League in 2010 and 2011. He led the CornBelters to a 44-52 record in their inaugural 2010 season and a 46-50 record in 2011.
"I’ve been in independent baseball for 16 years except for this year, this is the first summer off, not by choice, but I’m going to try to get back into it next year in independent baseball, of course," said Lanier, whose contract was not renewed by the CornBelters. "I’d like to come back to the American Association or back to the Frontier League where I managed two years before. He lives just outside Orlando in St. Cloud, Fla. "This summer, all I did was play golf."
Lanier, a mentor to Forney who was both a pitcher (1997-2000) and pitching coach (2000-2005) under Lanier, said what the Goldeyes have accomplished so far is "outstanding."
"To do it (win the series) in front of your home fans would be outstanding for them (Goldeyes). That would be a big achievement for all players and you really have to give credit to the Goldeyes players for what they’ve accomplished in the last 2 1/2 weeks," Lanier said, referring to the Goldeyes losing three of four to St. Paul in the second-last series of the season but rebounding to break the losing skid to clinch the wild card berth with a 5-1 win over Fargo on Sept. 1.
"The rivalry (with Fargo) has always been there, good rivalry with Doug Simunic and he’s done a great job down there but Rick’s done a great job up here. I’m very proud of what he (Forney) has accomplished getting into the playoffs six out of seven years."
Lanier said Forney invited him to "get dressed (in a Goldeyes uniform)" for the game and watch from the dugout but Lanier, knowing about baseball superstitions, declined as "you don’t want to change anything" when things are going well.