Brandon Hyde, Chicago Cubs first base coach
Brandon Hyde doesn’t need to manage a Little League team to understand the value of training gloves at the youth level.
The Chicago Cubs’ first-base coach only needs to sit in his backyard and watch his 7-year-old son, Colton.
It was during the 2014 season that Cubs third-base coach Gary Jones gave the younger Hyde a John Valle training mitt.
“I said ‘This is absolutely perfect,’’’ Brandon recalls. “So I called John to see if he had any more, and he sent me a bunch. That’s when I started using them.”
Hyde says he already can see the difference in his son’s defensive play.
“Kids don’t take care of their gloves very well, but this is lasting,” he says. “The material is better. It’s awesome.”
The Long Beach State graduate played professionally from 1997-2001, reaching Triple-A with the Chicago White Sox before injuries took their toll.. He spent several seasons as a minor-league manager and coach, was the Florida Marlins bench coach in 2011 and even spent one game as the team’s manager after Edwin Rodriguez unexpectedly resigned as skipper on June 19. Hyde joined the Cubs in December 2011 and served as minor-league field coordinator and director of player development before assuming first-base coaching duties last season.
Hyde, 42, grew up in Northern California and was a huge fan of San Francisco Giants first baseman Will Clark. He played shortstop until switching to catcher his junior year of high school.
“I went back and fell in love with the leadership part of the game,” he says. “You’re into every play. I loved the pitcher-catcher relationship.”
He says the biggest change in his 18 years in pro ball is the accessibility players have to information – and fans have to players.
“When you were a Single-A player in my day, you were in the middle of nowhere and a long way from the majors,” he says. “Now, fans know about all of the minor-leaguers. And the players know everything, too. We used to have to look in a newspaper or Baseball America to see what was happening. But technology has changed all that.”
Hyde says “there’s still a ton” that high school and college players need to be taught. But the star players are treated much differently than long ago.
“You used to play American Legion ball and travel with your own team,” he says. “Now, the showcase players are going to tournaments all over the country.”
Hyde always carried a smaller glove with him during his playing days and enjoyed catching bullpen with one.
“I had a small infielder’s glove,” he says. “I don’t even remember their being a catcher’s training glove.”
He feels infielders benefit most from training gloves but thinks all young players should carry one.
“It’s vital to have a good piece of leather on your hand,” he says. “When you’re playing catch and learning the game, you want to have the confidence of knowing the ball is going to go in the glove and the glove is going to hold up.”
The Cubs surprised most of America with their early arrival on the playoff scene, winning 97 games despite a young roster. Hyde can’t wait until this power-laden club gives it another run in 2016.
“We like our team,” he says. “The young players are all incredible guys on and off the field. And we have a solid mix of veteran players that complement us and help the young players out.”
His advice to young players? Get a training glove, and “continue to enjoy the game.”
“If you enjoy playing and practicing, and you keep doing that, the sky is the limit,” he says.