New era for Raiders baseball

Apr 18, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor

Manager Troy Brown has taken over the Riverton American Legion program with an extensive resume and ambitious plans for the future.

Troy Brown is no different from millions of young Americans across the country who begin playing baseball at an early age with big-league dreams in the backyard.

For him, rural Pennsylvania provided the backdrop for his origins in the game. Now, decades later, his passion for the national pastime has brought the veteran coach to Riverton as the newly-minted manager of the Raiders, Fremont County's American Legion baseball club.

When Brown picked up a bat and glove all those years ago, he never put them down. He earned his baseball stripes all over the diamond.

"I've been involved with baseball for as long as I can remember. I started playing when I was 5 and played all through youth league--typical 10-and-under, 12-and-under, 16-and-under, high school ball, American Legion and then in adult amateur leagues until 2015," said Brown. "Primarily, I was a catcher, first baseman and outfielder, with some time pitching."

Brown didn't need to go very far to find the most profound influence on him, as a player and a coach.

"I had many good coaches over the years, but the best and most influential was my Uncle Bud -- Walt Bicking," said Brown. "He was an awesome ballplayer and a great coach. He taught me how to play every position on the field and especially the philosophy I have on my approach to coaching."

Brown began coaching at Pequea Valley High School in Kinzers, Pennsylvania, in 1987, where he served as assistant junior varsity coach, before moving on to Manheim Central High School, also in Lancaster County.

It was at Manheim where another massive influence on his baseball life mentored him, he said.

"At Manheim Central, I had the privilege of coaching with the great Hen Bell," said Brown. "He taught me so much about practice planning, in-game strategy and how to build a program in a community.'

Following his stint in prep baseball, Brown moved on to the youth level.

"In 2001, I began coaching youth baseball and did that at various age levels until 2014," he said. "So all total, I have 17 years coaching high school baseball and 14 years involved at the youth level."

Brown arrived in Wyoming last spring and after learning about the Raiders, was duly intrigued, he said.

"Actually, I didn't know a whole lot about the program," said Brown. "When I moved here last May, I listened to some of the games on the radio and did stop up to see them play a few times. I saw they were a talented group of young men and I actually was wondering then how I might be able to help out. So, when when the head coaching job became available, I jumped at the chance."

Brown said he's in it for the long haul, which means he not only has goals for the present, but also objectives for the future, part of which is to create a synergy between the different rungs on the local baseball ladder to ensure success, he said.

"My short term goal is to get the program headed in the right direction both on and off the field. I want the young men who play on the team to set an example for the young players of the Riverton community," said Brown. "My long term goal is to work with the other baseball organizations here in town. For us to get to know one another, what skills each one teaches, so we can be on the same page and make Riverton baseball the best in the state. Consistency is the key to success."

Brown believes he's inherited a treasure trove of talent -- diamonds in the rough, if you will -- and all he has to do is bring out the best each has to offer.

"We have a great mix of older players and younger players. There are so many of them I expect big things from, truthfully, a majority of the roster," said Brown. "This is a talented group from the youngest to the oldest, who, once they believe in themselves and trust each other and their own abilities, the sky's the limit for them."

For those who believe Wyoming baseball suffers from a talent shortage and a lack of resources, the Raiders' new bench boss is having none of it.

"To be truthful, much of what we have here is better than what my players and I had back east. The facility we play at is a coach's dream -- two batting cages, an actual stadium and a really nice field, although I could do without the goat heads," he quipped.

"I'd say the only thing I would love to have would be a place to hit and throw indoors. That's the only resource that's missing. The facility where I taught baseball lessons, we used for both summer and high school offseason workouts.

"But, that is minor and something I hope to establish some day. Where we play, the Legion board, players, community, parents, number of games and what we have in the way of equipment is great."

Riverton opens the regular season at a tournament in Green River on May 12.

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