From a seven-year Major League Baseball career that culminated with a 2004 World Series win, Calvin “Pokey” Reese knew he had a lot of knowledge and experience to share with young players.
When his professional playing career ended after a string of injuries, Reese knew where he would find those players.
The Lower Richland Diamond Hornets will get the benefit of Reese’s experience climbing to baseball’s pinnacle, as the two-time Gold Glove winner assumes the skipper post at his alma mater.
“Last time I was on the field, we were coming off region championships,” Reese said. He said his interest in working with the Diamond Hornets grew as he and his former classmates saw the team struggling.
Reese brings a big-league mentality to a Diamond Hornets program that has not reached the playoffs in over a decade.
“The most important thing about Pokey Reese joining the Diamond Hornets is that he is from Lower Richland, so he’s coming home and that’s an important message for our student-athletes. This is home,” athletics director Bob Matz said.
“He’s well-known and he knows baseball, but he’s got a name everybody knows and it brings an instant level of excitement to our program.”
Reese said he hopes to instill the kind of discipline and work ethic his former coach, Henry Mixon, did for him. That foundation is what helped him become a first-round draft pick out of high school.
But he doesn’t expect to have instant credibility with the Diamond Hornets players.
“I know a lot of the kids, they may have heard my name, but they hadn’t seen me play. They’ll probably have to Google me,” Reese said.
Reese, a right-handed shortstop and second baseman, attended Lower Richland in the late ’80’s and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1991.
He started in the minor leagues with the rookie-level Princeton Reds and worked his way up to the Single-A Charleston Wheelers before the Reds called him up in 1997.
Known for his defense, Reese won Gold Gloves in 1999 and 2000.
He joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2002. In 2004, he joined the Boston Red Sox and helped the squad win the World Series.
In his career, Reese has 44 home runs, 271 RBIs and 144 stolen bases in 856 games. He retired from professional baseball in 2008 after shuffling through several minor league teams and several stints on the disabled list.
Lower Richland was unable to come to an agreement with Reese when the position first became available after Mixon’s retirement, but Matz said everyone is excited to have Reese back at Lower Richland.
Reese will not be teaching at the school, but he looks forward to being able to create a buzz around the Diamond Hornets baseball program that it has not had in years.
“It’s not about me. It’s about the kids. I can’t get out there and play for them, but with discipline and hard work, I believe we can help them do something great,” he said.
And the Diamond Hornets expect great things in the coming seasons now that the team is in Reese’s Gold Gloved hands.