Jones: Can baseball turn a 27-year-old into a perfect manager?

From Chris Jones at the New York Times Magazine on September 14, 2017:

On Opening Day this spring, Justin Jirschele’s eyes popped wide open at 9 o’clock, and he determined his chances of falling back to sleep — he’s big on percentages — to be zero. “Almost came to the park,” the 27-year-old said. Instead, the youngest manager in professional baseball fixed himself a bowl of cereal and downed it in bed while his new wife, Liz, tried to doze beside him. She has accepted that her marital contract will forever include disturbed nights.

Jirschele (pronounced JURSH-ah-lee) shares his apartment in Concord, N.C., with his 35-year-old pitching coach, Matt Zaleski, and his 28-year-old strength-and-conditioning coach, Goldy Simmons. (Liz was just visiting from their permanent home in Madison, Wis.) After Jirschele watched some videos of deer being stalked to “calm the mind a little bit,” he decided everybody might as well head to work. Together, they bundled into Zaleski’s Subaru and made the short drive to Kannapolis, home of the Intimidators — the Low-A farm team of the Chicago White Sox — and the first official game of Jirschele’s managerial career. It was 12:10 when they rolled in. First pitch was scheduled for 7:05.

By the standards of his profession, Jirschele is extraordinarily young. His first opposing manager, Marty Malloy of the Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws, is 45. His second, when the Rome (Ga.) Braves came to town, was the 59-year-old Randy Ingle, a member of the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame who began managing the year Jirschele was born. “He’s young,” Ingle said, “but if you’re a good baseball person, that’s not too young.”

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Originally published: September 21, 2017. Last Updated: September 21, 2017.