ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Interesting Double Play
by Brian North
2/8/06

Most Major League Baseball managers usually relax during the off season and do a whole lot of nothing. But Jerry Narron is not your normal big league skipper. He took over as manager of the Cincinnati Reds June 21st 2005, but he has held another job during the past three winters. Jerry has moonlighted as the Rosewood High School Girls Varsity Baseball Coach.  Yes, girls high school basketball (read the last sentence again slowly if it sounds astounding, because it is).

Narron was born and bred in Wayne County and continues to call Goldsboro home, although he hasn't been able to spend a whole lot of time there over the last three decades. He graduated from Goldsboro High School in 1974 and was selected by the Yankees in the sixth round of the June '74 free-agent draft. Jerry appeared in 392 Major League games for the Yankees, Mariners, and Angels, and has some interesting footnotes to his baseball career. He got his first hit against Jim Palmer, hit his first home run off Dennis Eckersley, and was the starting catcher for the New York Yankees the day after legendary catcher Thurman Munson died in a plane crash (August 3rd, 1979). His eight year major league playing career finished in 1987 with 177 hits (.211 average) and 21 home runs (he also took classes at ECU in his spare time).

Narron got into coaching professional baseball in 1989. Before managing the Reds to one of the best second half records in baseball last season, he managed Texas in 2001-02 (that came after spending six years with the Rangers as an assistant under the late, Johnny Oates). He also spent four years as a manager in Baltimore's minor league system and as a bench coach for the O's (1993-94) and one year on the Red Sox bench (2003) with Grady Little. That's 32 years of a lot of road trips and time away from his family in Goldsboro. So why would he want to coach girls basketball in his down time? Answer: to spend more time with his daughter.

Clare Narron is a senior and star player for Rosewood High School (located on the west side of Goldsboro). Three years ago the school was looking for a head coach. Narron saw an opportunity to bond with the pride and joy of his life, so he decided to team up with former NC State Basketball star June Hill as co-head coaches. This season it's been all Narron with the help of a few assistants, and the results speak for themselves. The Lady Eagles won their first conference title since 1940 (you can read that one again slowly too, it's also astounding). Jerry has helped mold a once floundering program into a bonified winner, and he is hoping his magic touch with the girls continues with the boys of summer.

The rigors and stress of managing a major professional franchise are obviously different from high school hoops, but Jerry demands the same work ethic out of the Lady Eagles as he does from his major leaguers.

"The girls might be a little more mature than the guys I'm working with in the summer" he laughed.

But Narron won't get to be a part of the ultimate scholastic championship run. He will miss the state playoffs. His "other" job will take precedence. Jerry has to report to Sarasota, Florida for spring training February 15th. But he will go down there with a championship swagger he picked up in his hometown over the winter, and he will check in on Rosewood's team and his daughter every day to see how they are doing in the postseason. Wouldn't it be something if Narron was a part of two championships in one season? That would be quite a double play.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com