This week Herts Baseball Newswire has been given exclusive access to British Baseball pin-up and Herts Hawks Manager, Marty Cullen Sr. We caught up with him between his yoga class and a meeting with his agent.
What was your reason for choosing to play the game of baseball and not one of the other sports?
As a kid, I played every sport there is and I loved them all. American Football, Soccer, Basketball, but I've always considered Baseball to be the ultimate team sport. Maybe it's because we high-five more than most.
Do you prefer managing or playing?
I'd play every day if my body would let me. I love it. Playing for the 2008 Falcons was one of the best experiences of my life. We had such a great chemistry and one of the best managers in the country. I'm hoping to bring what I've learned from that experience to the 2009 Hawks.
How would you describe yourself as a manager?
We'll find out soon enough!
Baseball teams in Great Britain always try to find the right balance between being competitive and providing enjoyment and a fair amount of playing time for all. Which of the two would be more important for you as a manager, competitiveness or individual player satisfaction?
Player satisfaction breeds competitiveness and vice versa. Everybody's happy when they're winning. The hard part is to keep happy when you're struggling. We pay to play in this league, so we all deserve to play as much as the next.
What are you looking forward to most in 2009?
I can't wait to watch the Falcons lift the National League Title in their first season!
Which will be the most important ingredient for your team in 2009 – pitching, defence, offence, speed, teamwork or maybe something else?
All of these things are vital to success on the diamond. That being said, I think the single most important ingredient will be teamwork. The 2008 Falcons proved that!
Is there one player that you are hoping the Falcons and Eagles Managers will forget to pick for their team?
I won't mention any names, but…YES!
After the players are split into their respective teams this Spring, do you think there should be a lot of movement of players between the Herts teams, or would you prefer to identify your players at the beginning and work with these same players the whole year?
I'm a big advocate of the franchise style program we're setting up here at Herts, so I'm really looking forward to moving players around. It'll be great to see players moving up because of hard work. Equally, if someone needs to take a step back to work on something, we can do that. I'm all for it.
What are your team’s objectives for the season in terms of place in the league standings and win-loss record?
Our objectives are always the same – Win the League. We want to be at the Final Four…Period.
Which of Herts Baseball Club’s four teams will have the best win-loss percentage?
It will be a four-way tie with a .875 winning percentage.
Over the next 7-8 months we will gradually be seeing Grovehill Ballpark develop into one of the finest baseball venues in this country. What would you like to add to the ballpark that is not included in the first two development stages?
Herts Baseball has probably the best, most dedicated development and fundraising teams in the country and they've all done an incredible job getting this project off the ground. When it's finished, Grovehill Ballpark will be the UK's premier Baseball Facility. There is however, one thing missing, and I'm absolutely sure that we'll have to add it at the end of 2009. A Trophy Room!
In your opinion what is the one thing which British baseball needs in order to start to catch up with the other more popular sports in this country such as football, cricket and rugby?
Youth programs – plain and simple. Whether it's in schools or local leagues, Baseball has to be brought en mass to the kids. Funding and media coverage are also key to development. But first, Let the kids play!!!
How much time would it take before current Little League players make it into your team and are you planning to start scouting Herts Little League players in the coming years?
Lee (Manning) and I have been scouting Little leaguers since day one, and there are a few who could compete in our adult program now. However, we're still in the early stages of our 'franchise', so don't expect to see any Little Leaguers don the metal cleats and wood bats before 2010.
What message would you like to give to the 2009 players who will be playing in your team?
Bring your A-game boys…The girls are watching!
Are you for or against the DH rule?
I love the DH rule, especially when you talk about pay and play Baseball. It allows you to field 10 players and as a manager, it gives you more flexibility with pitching and batting orders.
Name one baseball aspect that your son, Marty Cullen Jr, is already better at than you, and one baseball aspect that he will never be able to beat.
He's already better than me at most things Baseball! He has a better arm and is a far better pitcher than I'll ever be. He's already played for his Country. I, however, am still waiting for the USA team to call! There is one way I'll always have him beat. He could never be as proud of his accomplishments as I am.
Stay Tuned to the Herts Baseball Newswire. Next Week: Interview with Eagles Manager, Dave Westfallen.