He's been around the game of baseball for nearly his entire life.
The last three years have been spent as the York Revolution pitching coach, during which York's pitchers have amassed an Atlantic League-best 221-183 record. In addition, eight Revs' pitchers have been picked up by big-league organizations since 2010, with three later reaching the majors.
So Mark Mason, 51, certainly feels comfortable in York. Still, there's a part of him that wants to prove himself in his first year as the Revs' skipper this season. He replaces popular Andy Etchebarren, who retired after last season.
"You always want to prove yourself," Mason said by phone last week. "I think people in York know me as a pitching coach. You know how we pitched here the last three years, it speaks for itself. And there's a lot of behind-the-scenes things here that people may not have known. Plus, I managed a lot of games here. Last year I think we were 23-6 in games that I managed."
Mason, who moved from Washington County to Manchester Township last season, also brings 16 years of college coaching experience and more than 400 games of managerial experience in the independent Frontier League to the Revs.
Roster assembly: To this point, Mason and second-year baseball operations manager Andrew Ball have proven they can find talent.
Just look at the 28 players on York's preseason roster, nearly all of whom will practice together at Sovereign Bank Stadium for the first time Monday during Day 1 of spring training to get ready for Opening Day on April 18.
The group includes a league-high 13 players with major league experience. And it's not just a collection of journeymen, although York's preseason roster does have an average age of 30.2 years, second-oldest in the league.
Eight of York's players saw big-league action at some point in the last three seasons, five in the last two years. So York could have quite a few players get picked up by big-league clubs in the coming months.
On paper, the Revs' roster looks stacked, especially the outfield (three former big leaguers) and starting rotation (three former big leaguers).
Best available: It appears Mason and Ball have gone all-out to make sure York wins the first half of the season to guarantee a spot in the playoffs.
But Mason said York has just gone after "the best players available."
Plus, it's not like the Revs are just throwing money at guys to come to York. Just like the four other teams owned by Opening Day Partners, Revolution officials are given a limited dollar amount the team can use each season to pay the players. But Mason said money isn't much of a factor when trying to sign ex-big leaguers.
"A lot of times, the most successful big-league players that have had some type of formidable big-league career, they're not in this for the money, they're in it for the opportunity," Mason said. "The opportunity to play may mean more because they've already amassed a large amount of money in their career."
Many times when a player signs with York, he talks about how the Atlantic League gives him the best chance to get picked up by a major-league club. And how the Revs are a well-respected minor-league organization. And how the team has a track record of success, with two Atlantic League titles in the last three years and three-straight appearances in the Atlantic League playoffs.
It's the latter part Mason has the most control over in his quest to prove himself as York's new skipper.
"The main thing I want to do is continue the success we've had here the past three years," he said. "Because we've had that success is the reason why we have so many high-caliber players that want to come play here. It's also fun for the fans to come to the ballpark and see guys with big-league experience."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.