'THE GENERAL:' Windsor institution Nate Neff makes Susquehanna League baseball history
- Windsor's Nate Neff is now the all-time leader in managerial wins in the Susquehanna League.
- Neff has 395 wins with the Cardinals, who are 10-2 this season.
- Neff is now in his 22nd season as the manager of the Cardinals.
It can take a special person to stay committed to something for decades.
Longevity, especially in sports, often seems like a thing of the past. Players and coaches often move on to different teams multiple times during their careers.
Windsor manager Nate Neff, however, is a throwback to different generation.
A player for 30 years of his life in the Susquehanna League, Neff is now in his 22nd season skippering the Cardinals. That definitely qualifies him as an “old-school” baseball man.
So, it should come as little surprise that there was a common refrain throughout the league after Neff became the Susquehanna’s all-time winningest manager last week.
“That’s a record that will never be broken.”
Like what you're reading?:Not a subscriber? Click here for full access to The York Dispatch.
To Neff, breaking the previous record of 392 victories held by York Township manager Brad Chambers was never a goal, but a byproduct of just being around for as long as he has, as well as having quality players on his roster.
“The accolades are nice,” Neff said. “But it’s all about the players. If you have good players, you’re going to win games. If you don’t, you’re probably going to struggle.”
Neff is one that would know a lot about that. Not only is he the league’s all-time winningest manager, Neff also holds a more dubious title as the league’s all-time leader in defeats (360).
To hold both records certainly says something about Neff.
“(Nate’s) dedication and longevity are just incredibly unbelievable,” Felton manager Darren Wise said. “I actually broke into the league as Nate’s teammate in Windsor. Back then he was known as the ‘The General’ and he’s still known as ‘The General’ today. He definitely has brought his playing style into his managerial role.”
Caught off guard: Neff himself was caught somewhat off guard when he learned just how close he was to record.
It was only after a York Dispatch photographer was at a game against Jacobus two weeks ago that Neff realized that something was up.
“The photographer said that he heard I had a lot of wins and he wanted to take some pictures of me,” Neff said. “And that night we were up 8-5 when the game got suspended in the top of the fifth. And then the next night against Conrads we had to reschedule because we didn’t have enough umpires. Then we had a doubleheader at Windsor that Saturday that got postponed.”
Those washouts, however, could only delay the inevitable for so long.
Cardinals are red hot: Neff tied and then broke Chambers’ record last week against Stewartstown.
He has since added on two more victories to get to 395. Entering Tuesday, his red-hot Cardinals have won six in a row and lead the SL with a 10-2 mark.
“Our whole team has been (great),” Neff said. “Grant Schwartz hit a couple of home runs (last) Saturday to help us win and he hit one earlier in the year to win a game as well. So, he’s been impressive. And Cole Daugherty, our shortstop who played at Shepherd University in West Virginia, you can just see so much improvement offensively and defensively out of him. He’s really done a nice job for us so far.”
For nearly as long as Neff has been managing, one player who has been with him for nearly that entire time is veteran Shawn Wilson. At 42, Wilson is one of the more senior players in a league that has gotten younger and younger over the years.
Wilson has been pivotal to the team’s success, according to Neff.
“Shawn, of course, is always impressive,” Neff said. “He still bats third in our lineup and we’ve had to use him pitching-wise a bit this year again. And I think he may be 3-0 pitching. He pitched five or six good innings against a real good Stewartstown team last Tuesday.”
Annual joke: While Neff is a fairly serious manager on the field, he’s not immune to joking around a bit from time to time.
Steve Kline, a longtime player and coach for East Prospect, got a kick out of something Neff would say in meetings before the season.
“Every year in league meetings when we would turn in contracts for the upcoming season, Nate would always read off his list of names,” Kline said. “And he would always sneak in the name Larry Fine among his players. Larry Fine, of course, was one of the Three Stooges and that would get a chuckle from the other managers and officers every year.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.