Most succinctly described, Jerry Weinstein is a baseball polymath.
Weinstein, a scouting-and-player development assistant for the Rockies, was recently named the winner of the 2018 Tony Gwynn Award by Baseball America. The annual lifetime achievement honor is given to someone who’s made lasting contributions to the game.
In addition to a dozen-plus seasons of service with the Rockies, including a stint as Double-A Hartford’s manager in 2017, Weinstein has also managed or assisted for various other minor league and Division I teams, the USA Baseball team and Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. But he said his crowning baseball achievement was the 23 seasons he spent building Sacramento City College into a junior college powerhouse.
“It was a good program when I got in, but we really built it into the way it is, from the ground up,” Weinstein said. “We built a $5 million facility with very little school money as a result of the community, the labor unions and the work of our players. And the fact we had 30-plus big-league players come through there in less than 24 years — it was a perfect storm of the right community and the right level of local interest in the game.”
It was at “Sac City” where Weinstein began building a legacy that would eventually earn him the Tony Gwynn Award. The three previous winners were Hall of Fame third baseman Cal Ripken, legendary college baseball coach Augie Garrido and longtime coach/scout Tom Kotchman.
Under Weinstein, the Panthers amassed a 831-208 record (.800) while winning two state titles as well as a national championship in 1998. From that success, Weinstein found a new hardball identity as the Dodgers’ director of player development, did it again as an assistant coach at Division I Cal Poly, and then did it again while managing Team Israel to its first WBC appearance in 2017.
All the while, the 75-year-old amassed a devoted following via Twitter, where he’s known for detailed analysis on everything from technique to baseball theory.
“I started putting out little excepts or thoughts from my book on catching (in 2013), and I got all kinds of responses,” Weinstein said. “But I didn’t just get catching responses — people would DM me about other stuff. So I just started tweeting about whatever baseball stuff came across my head each day and now, when I go out and talk or I meet someone, they go, ‘Oh, so you’re the Twitter guy?’ I laugh and say, ‘No, I’m actually a baseball coach.’ ”
In his current role with the Rockies, Weinstein enjoys the on-field instruction at spring training that he gets to pair with the off-the-field evaluation of amateur prospects done in conjunction with scouting director Bill Schmidt.
Along that vein, who in particular will be atop the radar of the Tony Gwynn Award winner come February at Salt River? He projects that Tyler Nevin, who won the Arizona Fall League batting title with a .426 average, could be Colorado’s first baseman of the future.
“If Tyler stays healthy, he’s going to be a big impact player,” Weinstein said.
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