Darren Wise has enjoyed some athletic success over the years.
He's a former pro wrestler on the independent circuit, who was better known as “Dirty Deeds” Darren Wyse. He was credited with winning multiple titles over the years for nearly 10 different wrestling organizations.
He also enjoyed a solid career in the Susquehanna League as a baseball player.
These days, the Red Lion native is the manager of the Felton Mad Dogs in the Susquehanna League.
In that capacity, he's yet to celebrate a victory in his first season as the team's skipper. After losing to Jefferson on Saturday, 6-0, the Mad Dogs fell to 0-23. The Dogs' average margin defeat is hovering at just more than 12 runs per game.
Win or lose, however, Wise is just happy to be back on the ballfield.
“I love being out with these guys,” he said. “And obviously it would be a much greater experience if we could win some games.”
A second hometown: Wise, who used a move called "A Whole Lotta Rosie" to finish off his foes in the wrestling ring, wouldn’t have managed anywhere but Felton this season. His nearly 10-year run playing at Felton helped make the community, located outside of Red Lion in southern York County, like a second hometown to him.
“They liked me,” Wise said. “I was a little fiery and I ran my mouth and I hustled and that was just Felton in those days. I had a real great rapport with the fans down there and it kind of became home for me.”
From Ducks to Mad Dogs: One of the first things that changed when Wise took over at Felton was the team’s nickname. After years going without a mascot, the Felton team picked up the Ducks name years ago.
“We had adopted the Mad Dogs name back when I was playing there in the late '80s and '90s,” he said. “And somewhere along the line somebody changed it to the Ducks and my guys were like ‘nobody likes that.’ And I didn’t really like it either, so we just started thinking what we could come up with. And I told them that’s what we were when I played here and they were like ‘that’s good’ and we took a vote.”
Dealing with new generation: For an old-school guy such as Wise, who also played for Windsor and Conrads during his younger days in the Susquehanna League, dealing with the realities of skippering a new generation of players has been a challenge.
Like many guys his age, which he jokingly declined to be specific about, Wise came up in an era when there was never any doubt about who was going to show up for games.
“When I was younger, I was always either in a wrestling ring or on a baseball field,” Wise said. “And these days I’m not sure who I will have (available) when it’s time to play.”
The biggest hurdle so far this year for Wise has been getting his best players to play all on the same night.
“I’ve never once put my best nine players on the field this year,” he said.
League-wide problem: That lack of certainty with player availability has not been a problem just for Wise, but for seemingly every other manager around the league.
Wise pointed out that Jacobus has had some issues in that regard. He also confirmed that the league polled managers about opening up rosters to add three more players through the rest of the season.
While Wise typically hasn’t had to worry about having enough players on game days, the difficulty in putting together his best lineup has been.
Change is the norm: Even after doing so, an hour before the game things can still change.
“My guy, Greg Pomraning whose like 37 or 38, on Monday night he asked me which glove did he need,” Wise said. “And it’s like 5:15, and I said that he was playing third and ‘you know how it is’ and he said ‘yeah.’ Then at 5:30 I had to tell him that he’s now playing first base and he’s like ‘all right.' But then at 5:45 I asked ‘Greg, do you have a glove to play second base?’ And he went with it. That’s just how our lineup changes from minute to minute.”
Wise and his crew will look for win No. 1 this season when they host Stewartstown at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.