Catching up with Hobson in Lititz

By on August 31, 2016
Lancaster Barnstomers’ manager Butch Hobson (right) and pitcher Pete Andrelczyk (left) were at Tomato Pie Cafe in Lititz for a meet-and-greet last Friday.

Lancaster Barnstomers’ manager Butch Hobson (right) and pitcher Pete Andrelczyk (left) were at Tomato Pie Cafe in Lititz for a meet-and-greet last Friday.

In 2015, Lancaster Barnstormers’ skipper Butch Hobson put himself in the Atlantic League record books.

Just before recording his 1,800th all-time victory, he overtook Sparky Lyle as the winningest manager in League history.

A former big league player with the Red Sox, Angels and Yankees from 1975-82, Hobson’s career on the bench has landed him in various cities — Pawtucket, Boston, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Nashua, and Waldorf.

Lancaster, though, holds a special place in his heart.

“It’s been one of my favorite places that I’ve ever been,” Hobson said during a meet-and-greet at Lititz’s Tomato Pie Cafe last Friday. “Ever since I’ve been here, people have adopted me, and they did the same thing in Boston as a player, but when you’re a manager in Boston, they don’t adopt you. Even if you played there, it’s a pretty tough place to manage. But (Lancaster) is one of my favorite places that I’ve been in my managerial career. The whole area.”

Seated at a corner table, Hobson and Barnstormers’ pitcher Pete Andrelczyk signed autographs and posed for pictures with Tomato Pie patrons.

“It’s a cool town,” Hobson said of Lititz. “It’s the kind of place you just really like to walk around. I’ve enjoyed meeting the ownership here, it’s been really good and they’ve been really good supporters of the Barnstormers.”

A four-time Atlantic League Manager of the Year, he has won championships with the Pride in 2000 and Barnstormers in 2014.

Unfortunately, Hobson never took home a World Series trophy in the major leagues, but he made a lot of memories all the same. His best season came in 1977, when he slugged 30 long balls and had 112 RBI’s.

“As a player, I was just fortunate and blessed that I got to be in the big leagues, and then playing on that team with all those hitters that we had. That ‘77 (Red Sox) team, four of us hit 30 home runs. That’s kinda unusual today,” Hobson said. “Growing up as a drafted-by-Boston guy, getting to the big leagues was very special. I got to play with three Hall of Famers — Yaz and Fisk and Rice. Luis Tiant should be in the Hall of Fame, but they won’t ever vote him in.”

Besides slugging 98 home runs in a big league career consisting of 738 games, Hobson won favor from the Red Sox fans during a late-season ball game at Fenway Park one year.

“Back in the ‘70s,” he said, “people used to run out on the field, streakers and all that happened in the ‘70s. Crazy ‘70s, right? I remember in the off-season, I liked to train bird dogs. I had, like, 20 of them and I’d train them and raise them and stuff like that in the off-season. But it’s a September day game, big crowd and somebody let a little bird dog go. They let him jump on the field in between innings. He was one of those, what we call, high-strung dogs that’s really fast. The whole security was out there chasing this dog on the field, we’ve got 37,000 people going crazy and Rick Burleson’s getting angry about that dog being on the field and delaying the game. When you train a bird dog, you have to get ‘Whoa’ voices. When they start smelling birds, you have to be able to say, ‘Whoa,’ then they’ll stop so they don’t chase the birds. These guys are running around the field chasing him, he comes over by third base and I went, ‘Whoa.’ Bam. (Security) went over and got him by the collar and I got a standing ovation. The only one I ever got.”

Hobson remembers clearly that it happened as a player in Boston, and not as a manager.

“I don’t know even if I had done it as a manager if I’d still get a standing ovation.” he said. “It depends on what kind of streak we were on, losing or winning. The Boston fans are tough.”

A former football player for the legendary Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama, Hobson had hoped to return to his alma mater as the Crimson Tide’s baseball coach when that job came open earlier this year. He interviewed for the position, but it was eventually given to Greg Goff.

“Being born and raised in Alabama, and playing at Alabama, it’s something that I really wanted to try to pursue and I did,” Hobson recalled. “After the interview, I felt like I really might be the guy. But they ended up going in another direction, which was very disappointing. But I’m going to (manage) probably until I can’t do it anymore. I just turned 65, I’m still in good shape, and it’s getting so I can’t throw as much batting practice and do some of the things that I want to try to do. But as far as the game, I still learn a lot, I still learn from the game. If it ever gets to the point where that’s not happening, then it’s time for me to retire. If the good Lord wants me to be here the next 10 years for the Barnstormers, then that’s fine with me. I’ve really been fond of this area and the people in the organization. They take care of me and I like them.”

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