Lack of experience is no issue for the newest member of the Newman baseball coaching staff. Mike Pelfrey played professional baseball for 12 years before returning to his hometown of Wichita.
Pelfrey graduated from Wichita Heights in 2002 and attended Wichita State University where he pitched for the Shockers for three seasons. Pelfrey was drafted in 2005 and played seven seasons for the New York Mets, three for the Minnesota Twins, and finished with a season for both the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.
He recently returned to Wichita and began working on his sports management degree at Wichita State University. After receiving his course calendar, he realized he would need an internship in 2019 in order to complete his degree.
He spoke with his friend, former Newman assistant baseball coach Brandon Hall, about needing an internship in the coming year. Hall mentioned it to Newman Head Baseball Coach Zane Ehling who said he would be happy to have Pelfrey start now. Pelfrey’s official title is volunteer assistant coach.
As a pitcher himself, Pelfrey will mostly work with the pitchers on the team. He will help oversee approximately 20 players alongside Assistant Coach John Branum.
He’s looking forward to being a mentor for the players and said, “For me, I feel like I’ve always been a good clubhouse guy. It’s just being around players and getting to still be around baseball, which is what I feel like I know and what I feel like I enjoy.”
Pelfrey is taking this opportunity to try his hand at coaching full-time for his future’s sake. He said, “Since 2013, I’ve kind of been a mentor for the younger guys so it just kind of gave me the idea of wanting to get into coaching to see if I enjoy it.”
The transition from player to coach has a bit of a learning curve.
“When you’re a player and you’re mentoring other guys it’s only part of the time, it’s not a full-time job.”
As a coach, he said, “Instead of the young guys leaning on you, it’s more like 20 guys that might want to know something.”
Pelfrey is learning a lot and said, “As we get into it, guys are different. We have 21 pitchers and 21 different personalities. So just understanding how to relate to them (will be an important task).”
Pelfrey and Branum will also work together on recruiting for the team.
Pelfrey doesn’t think this will officially count for his internship requirement for 2019 so there is a possibility he’ll be back for another season. He said, “Experience is the biggest thing. I’m just thankful they let me come join.”
Branum said, “We’re lucky to have him here. His obvious knowledge and experience will really help us out, especially the young guys ’cause they just soak it all up.”
The first game of the season is Friday, Feb. 9, at Fort Hays State University.