Apr 1, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners reliever Fernando Rodney (56) celebrates with catcher John Buck (4) at the end of the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Mariners defeated the Angels 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lloyd McClendon: A Picture of Poise in the Mariners Dugout


Mar 20, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon (L) looks on against the Chicago Cubs at Cubs Park. The Mariners won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The season has started and Lloyd McClendon has made it clear that he is the defender of everything Seattle Mariners.

But where does he come from? We know he coached the Pirates from 2001-2005 before being fired with a record of 336–446. Then he spent eight years coaching under Jim Leyland in Detroit.

What about before that? His professional career? College? Middle school? Let’s take a look…

 

Growing Up:

Lloyd was one of 13 children. 9 boys, and 4 girls. He was the youngest of the boys and deemed the man of the house. Why? Because his brothers were old enough to go out and work everyday. So he was tasked with ‘taking care’ of his mom till his dad got home from work.

He is famously known as Legendary Lloyd in Gary, Indiana. He was the kid who hit five home runs in five at-bats during the Little League World Series.

Benny Dorsey, his high school baseball coach at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, named him a team captain of the baseball team as a freshman. Only 15 years old. Leading teammates who were already– technically– adults.

McClendon was a catcher in high-school, and his baseball prowess led him to play at Valparaiso. Both of his kids ended up going to school there. He met his college sweetheart, and wife, at Valparaiso too.

 

Playing Career:

Before Minor League baseball McClendon played and it all came naturally. It took him a number of long, arduous, injury-ridden years to work his way through the Cincinnati Reds farm system.

And when he finally made it, he was on an absolutely stacked Reds roster. Struggling in the Bigs, McClendon was sent back down to the minors before settling down and making his second appearance in the Major Leagues.

In total he spent 8 years in the Majors between three teams: the Reds, the Chicago Cubs, and the Pittsburg Pirates.

After those 8 seasons as a role player, he hung up his hat, cleats, and batting mitt, and eventually became a Major League manager with his former team, the Pirates.

 

Managing Career:

After retiring from baseball McClendon spent the interim years as a hitting coach for the Pittsburg Pirates. Then, he was promoted internally to manager of the club in 2000. They were rebuilding, big time, and McClendon didn’t find real success with the team. The 336-446 record he compiled led to him getting the boot in 2005.

Then Jim Leyland, recently retired, brought McClendon on as a hitting coach in Detroit. He held that position for 8 seasons– 2006-2013– before being offered the job of Mariners skipper this offseason.

From what’s been seen so far in his short tenure– his defense of Robinson Cano during Spring Training, his vote of confidence in Justin Smoak back in December– McClendon has pleasantly surprised people.

Just as the Mariners are doing now, having swept the Angels in Anaheim for the first time since 2006.

The M’s are 3-0 under new manager Lloyd McClendon. The last times the Mariners started a season 3-0? The “refuse to lose” 1995 season.

McClendon looks calm and poised in the dugout. He defends his players.

And so far in 2014, he has them believing they can be successful. So far, he has me believing too.

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