Through the years, Pat Kelly’s baseball life has correlated with his everyday life.
Take it from the Mustangs’ first-year manager: They’re one and the same.
“I’ve always said managing a baseball team is similar to raising a family — from the discipline standpoint to the mentoring standpoint. Everything,” Kelly said recently.
“I think raising kids made me a better manager, and I think managing made me a better parent. I think they kind of work together.”
Kelly, whose team opens a seven-game homestand Wednesday night at Dehler Park, has been in baseball for the majority of his 55 years.
As a player, Kelly signed a professional contract with the Angels out of high school after being drafted in the third round in 1973. He played just three games as a catcher in the big leagues — a modern-day Moonlight Graham — before embarking on a minor league managerial career that’s spanned 22 years and 15 teams.
Kelly, who’s been with the Cincinnati Reds organization since 2007, has found a way to juggle his duties as a baseball man and a family man.
But the father of three — his two sons are currently playing in the minors — has missed his share of moments.
“It’s always been that way,” he says. “I’ve been doing this job for all these years and I’ve been on the road, and I didn’t get to see a lot of my kids’ games.
“But I’m kind of used to talking to my wife and talking to the boys and letting them give me a little replay of the game.”
Kelly’s youngest son, Casey, was a first-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 2008.
Casey Kelly was part of the trade that sent all-star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox this offseason, and he is now pitching at the Double-A level in the Padres organization.
Kelly was ranked No. 21 among the Top 50 prospects by MLB.com entering the 2011 season.
Pat Kelly says his sons “hung around clubhouses their whole lives. As one scout said, they were born in a bat bag and they’ve been in a clubhouse ever since.”
Kelly seems to treat his players like sons.
From the nurturing aspect of player development to standing up for his guys on the field, Kelly works hard to give each player a chance to succeed.
And that’s earned him some fanfare.
“Being in the game this long and having signed a contract out of high school myself,” he says, “I have a decent feel for what’s going on.”
Kelly has guided the Mustangs to a 12-10 record thus far, which is good for a tie for first place atop the Pioneer League’s North division.
Filling a void
With the Mustangs playing at home for the first time in eight days, fans will notice changes in the lineup.
Last Thursday, outfielder Dayne Read was promoted to Bakersfield, the Reds’ Advanced Single-A affiliate in the California League.
Read had been swinging the bat so well in Billings that the Reds elevated him beyond Dayton, their low Single-A affiliate in the Midwest League.
Read hit .400 (22 for 55) with 4 home runs and 18 RBIs in 14 games with the Mustangs. He was slugging .745 and had an OPS of 1.195 at the time of his promotion.
Additionally, right-handed relief pitcher Brian Pearl was promoted to Dayton last week. The University of Washington product was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three appearances. Pearl had eight strikeouts, two walks and had allowed two earned runs in six innings.
Read and Pearl were each in their second season with the Mustangs.
Here they come
The Mustangs host Orem on Wednesday night in the first of a three-game series at Dehler Park. They welcome Ogden for a four-game set beginning Saturday.
Orem and Ogden are the top two hitting squads in the league.
The Owlz (12-10) are led by designated hitter C.J. Cron, who was the 17th overall pick in the 2011 Draft from the University of Utah. Cron, the son of former Great Falls manager Chris Cron, is hitting .362 with three homers and 10 RBIs in only 11 games.
Orem is hitting .308 overall, tops the league.
Ogden (16-6) hits .306 as a team and boasts outfielder Scott Schebler, one of the league’s most prolific sluggers. Schebler ranks in the top 10 in batting average (.363), the top five in home runs (5) and leads the league in RBIs (26).
Outfielder James Baldwin is another Raptors player to watch. Baldwin, a fourth-round pick in 2010, is hitting .333 with three homers and 17 RBIs.