York Revolution manager Mark Mason remembers the conversation clearly.
In late September the Revs were in Lancaster for the Freedom Division Championship Series. Hours before a playoff game, Mason was standing in right field at Clipper Magazine Stadium watching his players when Barnstormers' starting pitcher John Halama approached him. The two baseball veterans proceeded to talk for a good hour.
"We talked about pitching philosophies, coaching philosophies, ways to approach players and how to handle players as a coach, and all those different things," Mason said. "We agreed on a lot of things that we talked about."
Halama also brought up another topic during the conversation. Everyone already knew Andy Etchebarren was retiring as the Revs' manager following the season, and Mason, then York's pitching coach, would take over the managerial role in 2013. As a result, Mason would need a pitching coach. And Halama, a 19-year pro baseball player, wanted the gig.
"I've always thought about (coaching)," Halama said. "To what extent, whether in affiliated ball or in the Atlantic League, I never thought that through. But when this was presented to me I couldn't turn it down. It's close to home (in Brooklyn).
The Revs announced Wednesday morning that Halama, 40, will be the team's next pitching coach in 2013, making official a deal that has been in the works for months.
That's not to say that York's front office didn't do their due diligence. Revs' baseball operations manager Andrew Ball said the team had interest from 10-to-12 candidates about the job and seriously considered about five of them. Halama, though, was tough to turn down.
He's been to the majors. He amassed 56 wins from 1998-2006 with seven different big league ballclubs. He's also familiar with the Atlantic League, spending the better part of the last six seasons pitching for the Long Island Ducks, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and Lancaster.
"As a player he's been to the highest level in baseball," Mason said. "He also knows the (Atlantic) League and he has a great personality, which will allow him to be a really good coach because he knows how to interact with people."
Barnstormers' skipper Butch Hobson has similar sentiments. Halama played for Hobson at Southern Maryland and Lancaster.
"He's always one of those guys talking to starting pitchers in the dugout," Hobson said. "John is always communicating and is always talking about reading a hitters' swing in certain situations. He's a very smart man. He's going to be a great pitching coach."
It's that kind of interaction with teammates that Halama feels will help him in his new role despite not having any coaching experience, aside from stepping in for Lancaster pitching coach Marty Janzen for four games in the second half of last season when Janzen left for the birth of his son.
"It's something I've been somewhat doing for awhile but without the pitching-coach label on me," Halama said. "It's one of those things where I want to be a part of the game. I really enjoy it. I think I can help out."
Mason said Enohel Polanco will return as the team's third-base coach but he didn't make a commitment on bringing back infielder Liu Rodriguez as a player-coach.
Playing career: Drafted by the Astros in the 23rd round in 1994, Halama went on to pitch for the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. His best big league season came in 2000 when he totaled 14 wins for the Mariners.
In six seasons in the Atlantic League, the 6-foot, 5-inch left-hander went 41-29 with a 3.43 ERA in 93 career starts in six seasons. He earned an affiliated contract out of the Atlantic League three years in a row from 2008 to 2010. Last year, he finished third in the league in ERA (3.09), fifth in wins (13) and seventh in strikeouts (113).
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