Just two hours before the pre-game ceremony at Sovereign Bank Stadium to officially retire his No. 8 jersey, Andy Etchebarren found himself back in the York Revolution clubhouse.
As he sat in the chair in what is now his former office -- the same one new Revs' skipper Mark Mason moved into -- Etchebarren admitted he felt a little different.
"I miss it right now," Etchebarren said of baseball. "We got a game and I'm not going out tonight. But I knew that was gonna happen. At least I'm still involved in it."
The 69-year-old retired manager everyone calls "Etch" is enjoying his down time. He isn't able to play as much golf as he'd like, thanks to two back surgeries in the last three years.
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He sometimes visits his stepdaughter, who lives in Florida. But for the most part, Etch spends most of his days with his dog and cat at his South Carolina home, which sits by Lake Marian, where he sometimes takes his 20-foot boat out for a spin.
"You can't take the boat out right now," he said. "(Lancaster Barnstormers' manager) Butch (Hobson) visited for four days before he came up here. We were gonna take it out on the water, but the waves were like an ocean."
New role: Although he's officially retired, Etchebarren will stay busy this baseball season with various responsibilities throughout the Atlantic League.
As an assistant to Atlantic League president Peter Kirk, Etchebarren will help oversee umpiring. And he's also working with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs to help the club boost its attendance. The Crabs averaged 3,369 fans a game last season, second-to-worst in the league.
"No. 1, we'd like to increase the attendance by at least 250 (fans a game). I think that's do-able this year with a new general manager there (Patrick Day) and me getting more involved in the community," Etchebarren said. "I'm gonna try to do some community things for them."
If not for his responsibilities with the league, Etchebarren said things could be different for him right now.
"If Peter would've came to me and said 'You can manage as long as you want here, but I don't have anything for you (when you retire),' I probably would've stayed (as manager)," Etchebarren said. "I want to do something in baseball."
Ceremony: Etchebarren greeted some of his former players Thursday night when this year's Revolution team was introduced before the game. He specifically pulled aside second baseman Andres Perez, who is back in York for a second straight year.
"He just told me to keep working hard and things will pay off," Perez said. "Keep working hard and I'll get picked up (by a big-league team)."
A pre-game ceremony then revealed Etchebarren's retired No. 8 plastered on top of a painting of a large baseball in center field. His number was sandwiched in the middle between Brooks Robinson's No. 5 and Jackie Robinson's No. 42, which were also revealed in the ceremony.
"To be between those two guys is very humbling," Etchebarren said, when addressing the fans on a microphone after the ceremony. "It's unbelievable. And all of you here, you know I love you guys. Thank you so much."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.