The 45-year-old father of three who was introduced as the new manager of the Orioles on Monday afternoon didn’t deliver very many snappy quotes or tell long, winding perspective-laden stories like his predecessor did from the same table in Camden Yards’ auxiliary clubhouse the last eight years.
But Brandon Hyde isn’t going to be Buck Showalter, or anyone else for that matter. “I’m going to be me,” he said during a 35-minute debut press conference. Which begs the question, upon his arrival in Baltimore: Who exactly is he?
For starters, no offense, Hyde is a dirtbag. More specifically a Long Beach State Dirtbag, a 1997 alum of the California college and baseball program. From there, the mascots and names he wore on his uniform didn’t get much more glamorous. After a five-year minor league playing career as a catcher, Hyde began his coaching career by managing the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Carolina Mudcats and Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida Marlins organization from 2005 to 2008.
At 10 years older than his new boss, the O’s new data-driven general manager Mike Elias, Hyde is already a baseball lifer, a journeyman type that toiled in the minors—“I was an average to below average minor league player who had to work for everything that he got,” he said. Then as a coach, before breaking into the big leagues as a bench coach, essentially a team’s No. 2 in command, in 2010 and holding that job for two different teams, most recently for the Chicago Cubs alongside Joe Maddon, one of the most respected managers in the game.
“He’s somebody who’s viewed as an up-and-coming star in our business,” Elias said of Hyde. “His was the very first name I heard. Every phone call I made, his name always came up.”
Introducing Brandon Hyde, the 20th manager in Orioles history https://t.co/2T60nZjDOZ— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) December 17, 2018
Shortly after Elias handed Hyde a fresh Orioles hat and a white No. 18 jersey to slip over his white collared shirt and orange tie to make things official, he became emotional as he sat down to read out loud from a sheet of prepared notes. “This is overwhelming,” he said, before hitting all the right points.
He talked about his strengths developing players and relationship building, skills that will be much needed as the O’s embark on a comprehensive overhaul from the front office to the lowest rungs of the minor leagues after a team-worst 115-loss season.
Hyde recognized Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman and current team ambassador Brooks Robinson sitting in the front row of the audience, and showed reverence for the team’s history and tradition. “Brooks Robinson’s sitting here,” Hyde said. “I’m in my new office, and there’s pictures of Earl Weaver and Cal Ripken, Sr. To be around history, and be involved in a city like Baltimore, is a dream come true. . . . I understand the significance of this position.”
And he and Elias, who’ve just gotten to know each other through the interview process, each talked about how they planned to work together. Elias and his right-hand man, former NASA engineer Sig Mejdal, and staff will supply “advanced information,” in the form of statistics, analytics, and scouting reports to Hyde, who, along with his yet-to-be-named assistant coaching staff (the work begins on that this week), will make sense of it and relay it to players.
“The buzzword,” Hyde said, “is collaboration. Open thinking and free conversation, creative ideas. That’s our goal here.”
The new manager, the 20th in Orioles history, also teared up when he thanked his parents, sister, wife, two daughters, and son Colton, who was somewhat of a fixture in the Cubs clubhouse when they broke their franchise’s 108-year long championship drought in 2016 and won the World Series.
Before each game at Wrigley Field, a then eight-year-old Colton and his dad played catch in the outfield. The next summer the he could be seen in the outfield making diving catches during batting practice. And now you can watch him here on YouTube. Cubs players considered Hyde’s son a lucky charm.
Chances are you might see the kid doing the same in one of the outfield corners at Camden Yards, if he practices what his father preaches. “The bottom line is to be true to yourself every single day,” his dad said. And so, we’ll see what that looks like in action soon enough.