THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT POLEY

(Photo By: Minda Haas Kuhlmann)

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT POLEY

Omaha manager enjoys 6th season working from home

By Andrew Green
There’s no place like home.

For many baseball players and coaches, the reality of “home” during the season is a home away from home. After games at Werner Park, most Storm Chasers players will retreat to a nearby apartment, then head to their actual home once the season reaches its conclusion.

Yet for the fifth straight year, Omaha manager Brian Poldberg after home games gets to return to his actual home in Carter Lake, Iowa.

“Poley”, as players, coaches and front office staff call him, was born in Omaha, and has called the Omaha Metro home for a large majority of his life and graduated from Council Bluffs-Thomas Jefferson High School.

He attended college just up the road at Wayne State University before transferring to Emporia State University in Kansas. The Yankees signed Poldberg out of college, and he made his way up through the system to Greensboro and Nashville before joining the Royals organization prior to the 1983 season. For the next three years, he was able to play for the Omaha Royals at Rosenblatt Stadium.

“It was nice…my dad was able to get off of work and go to a bunch of my games,” recalls Poldberg. “It was nice for him to be able to see quite a few games, where when I was in Greensboro or Nashville, they would come out for one trip during the summer.”

Three years later, his coaching career began in the Kansas City Royals system as skipper of the Appleton Foxes in Wisconsin, notching his first 58 wins of his managerial career. And since that time, Poldberg has been a coach in the Kansas City Royals system, whether it be as a minor league manager or instructor, along with a four-year stint on the major league staff in a variety of roles, including bullpen coach, first base coach and third base coach.

After six seasons as manager of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Poldberg returned home to Omaha and was named the Storm Chasers’ skipper prior to the 2014 season. That year he capped Omaha’s Back-to-Back Triple-A National Championship run, becoming just the second manager in franchise history to win a league title in his first year as skipper.

The other? Jack McKeon during the Omaha Royals’ inaugural season in 1969.

Poldberg is also one of two other Omaha managers to have played for the organization before being skipper.

1998-99 Omaha manager Ron Johnson played with the club for three seasons from 1981-83, with that final year overlapping with Poldberg’s first season as the O-Royals’ backstop.

Poldberg’s numbers speak for themselves. Entering 2019, he sports 1,224 managerial victories, which ranks him eleventh among all active minor league managers according to Minor League Baseball.

349 of those triumphs have come in Omaha, the second most of any manager in the Storm Chasers’ franchise history behind only Mike Jirschele’s 995. As of July 29, 2019, Poldberg is 3 wins shy of 400!

When he hears these numbers and what they mean, Poldberg will smile and say it means that he has been around for a long time. But to be in one organization for your entire coaching career is not common.

“When you consider the regime changes over the years, to work with one big league team for more than 30 seasons as a coach, manager or instructor is a rarity these days,” says Storm Chasers Director of Broadcasting, Mark Nasser. “The fact that ‘Poley’ has done that with the Royals organization speaks volumes about his reputation and his work.”

While the wins, games and seasons are quantifiable, what is immeasurable is the impact “Poley” has had on the numerous players he has managed. Many have gone on to successful major league careers. Some have been fortunate enough to earn World Series rings.

And it is those players and the coaches he works with year in and year out that keeps bringing Poldberg back to the manager’s chair.

“Each year you got a different group of guys and the different personalities and you get different staffs that I’ve had,” he says. “But, you know, just dealing with people. I enjoy being around people and trying to make it
all work.”

Consider the championship teams Poldberg has helmed in the Carolina League, Texas League and Pacific Coast League, and there is no doubt Poldberg has made it work often.

What can possibly be better than that?

Making it work in your own backyard.

 

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