Hancock excited to manage in Raton
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
RATON — Ray Hancock has been bouncing around the Pecos League since early this year, but has finally landed in Raton, taking over for recently released manager Keith Essary.
“I do appreciate it, but I wasn’t expecting it, to be honest with you,” Hancock said of the appointment. “It was just one of those things that happens. I just happened to be here at the right time, right place. Hopefully it’ll stay that way.”
Hancock began the year as the manager of the Carlsbad Bats, but when the city of Pecos, Texas, couldn’t make the Bills happen, the Pecos League was reduced to eight teams, with Carlsbad — and its players and managers — the other team to go.
But Hancock came to the Pecos Spring League, working as a coach with both the Garden of Gears and Sea Lions — changing hats and jerseys as needed — and on March 20, was named the Osos manager.
“I didn’t really come here for a job, per se, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I just wanted to be part of something. Just part of this and it just sort of fell in place.”
The personable Hancock said he liked being under the radar during the spring league, giving him a chance to evaluate the players without them feeling pressure to perform.
“I can look at the players differently when they’re not thinking about me,” he said.
Hancock comes to Raton from Avon, Indiana, where he's coached middle school, high school summer ball and a USA Baseball collegiate summer league, as well as served on the staff of the Ohio Valley Redcoats in the Frontier League.
He said his goal is to get team players who want to play small ball.
“That’s what I’m going to be looking for,” Hancock said. “Guys who can run. Guys who can put on the squeeze. Guys who will lay the bunt down when I want it done. And, turn a double play now and then.”
Of course, he won’t turn down someone who can occasionally hit it out of the park — “Of course, everybody likes to see a home run now and then. That puts the fans in the seats and all those quotes” — but his key is getting players who can fit his style and work together as a team.
Hancock does come into the league a bit behind as far as recruiting players. The players signed to Carlsbad were disbursed to other teams when the Bats were dropped from the league, and the players brought into Raton under the former manager were also sent elsewhere.
But Hancock doesn’t sound too concerned.
“I’m basically coming in out of the woods and it is what it is,” he said. “I’ve done it before, with other teams, so I think I’ll be OK. I’m not really worried about it. (Commissioner) Andrew (Dunn) seems to want to help me. All the other managers seem more than helpful.”
Hancock got six players from the Spring League, and said Dunn promised he’ll be able to fill out his squad from other places.
“Andrew seems to think so,” the manager said. “He’s told me several times that he’s got the players. I’m assuming he’s got the players. What else can I assume? Again, it is what it is. I’ll do the best I can with what I get.”
Hancock plans on arriving in Raton in early May, working with city organizers by phone until then. He’s never been to the northern New Mexico community, but is looking forward to working there.
“Hopefully I’ll have some help from the community, of course, because if you don’t have some kind of help you’re going to be lost,” he said. “Hopefully there’ll be plenty of housing for the players, and for me. But we’ll see. Again, I’m not too worried about it.”
He still doesn’t have an assistant, but also figures one will come along.
“I’m hoping, once I get there, maybe someone in the town will step up. If not, then I’ll be looking. I’m looking right this minute,” Hancock said.
One thing he does know is that with five northern New Mexico teams with a 1.5 hour drive — including Trinidad, which is just 20 miles north — it should be a fun summer.
“That is the goal,” he said. “We want it to be fun. We don’t want one or the other team just to clean house. We want to have fun and we want to make a rivalry. That’s the way the whole league is going to be, probably.”
But while the Hancock is hoping no one will clean house, he may also be hoping if anyone does, it’s the Osos.
“I’ve done this for like 30 years solid, so I’ve got quite a bit of coaching,” he said. “I’m not used to losing. That might be a problem for me. It’s not that I’m not a good loser, it’s just that I don’t like to lose. But I do plan on going there and I have a mission. I’m not going to just show up, and I don’t expect my players to just show up. I expect them to have a mission.”
And he hopes Raton — which is 1,200 miles from his home town — will be accepting of the Osos as well.
“I hope they’re happy we’re coming. I really do,” Hancock said. “I’m hoping we have a good fan base. I’m hoping they show up to the games, because it’s a lot more fun when you have people there cheering and booing sometimes. If we deserve to be booed, then hey! Let us have it. That’s just the way it works. But I don’t know much about the place, but I am excited about going there. Really excited.”
Ray Hancock, wearing the Galveston Sea Lions uniform, will coach the Raton Osos during the 2013 season and hopefully beyond.
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