MIDLAND’S TERRY COLLINS MANAGES AGAIN
Terry Collins from Midland, Michigan recently returned to Michigan for a 3 day stop in Detroit to take on the Detroit Tigers as the manager of the New York Mets. The 1967 Midland High School graduate who then went on to Eastern Michigan University to play college baseball earned All-American honors. The Eastern Michigan team captured the 1971 NAIA National Championship and Terry was named the outstanding defensive player of the tournament.
Then over the next four decades Terry has had an involvement with professional baseball in several different capacities. He has even coached a collegiate summer baseball team recently. To add a local flavor to Terry’s sporting career was after an 8 year minor league career as a player Terry returned to the Midland area to work for a year. Terry would become the player/manager of the local softball powerhouse team from Midland McArdle’s softball team. Midland would be hosting the ASA National Fast pitch Softball Championship in 1979. As luck would have it McArdle’s would win the National Championship under Terry’s leadership.
Later that fall Terry who was also playing touch football in Midland was asked to play in the National Touch Football Championships by Bay City’s Sempliner’s Touch Football team. The National Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri would host the top 64 touch football teams in the country. Terry who quarterbacked his team in Midland was picked up to back up Sempliner’s quarterback Ben Haller. Terry also was a top-notch defensive back who started in the National Tournament at that position.
Sempliner’s making their 2nd trip to the Nationals finished with 3-2 record good enough for a 16th place in the National Tournament. When I heard about Terry playing in Midland that fall and our team qualified to go to the Nationals a second time I wanted to pick up a quality player to help us improve at the Nationals. Terry Collins helped us make the difference the 2nd time around.
Then in 1980 Terry Collins then would be hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers to coach third base for their AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. He would spend the entire summer doing just that. He then returned home to Midland for the fall and would again play for the Bay City based Bailey’s Bar touch football team. The team would go on to win the City Championship with a 9-0 record and finish with an overall 15-7 record. This would be the last time that Terry Collins would be playing recreational sports in the Tri-City area.
Beginning in 1981 Terry Collins would begin the journey to take him to the Major League. He would manage at every level in Minor League baseball beginning in the Class A California League and then moving to Double A with the Dodgers farm system. Terry then would manage at the Triple A affiliate for the Dodgers in Albuquerque and winning a Pacific Coast League championship. He then moved to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and managed their top farm club thru 1991.
Then in 1992 Terry Collins reached the Majors as a coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates managed by current Detroit Tiger manager Jim Leyland. He would serve as coach for two seasons until he was hired by the Houston Astros as their new manager in November 1993. He would serve as the Astros manager for three seasons and coming in 2nd place each year. Then the California Angels hired Terry as their manager for the next three seasons again finishing in 2nd place each year. He was then fired by the Angels.
Terry then worked for numerous different clubs over the next 12 years in several different capacities. In late 2005 and during 2006 Terry was very helpful in helping the Dodgers and Michigan Baseball Foundation in bringing the Great Lakes Loons to Midland.
In November 2010 Terry Collins was hired to become the new manager for the New York Mets in the biggest arena New York City. The 62 year old Midlander sees the Mets as a challenge in returning to the playoffs and competing for a World Series title.
The New York Mets came into Detroit for a 3 game series on June 28-30 against the Tigers with an off day on Monday the 27th. This would give Terry a chance to make the 125 mile return trip to Midland to visit with his 92 year old father. Bud Collins who still resides in Midland was quite an athlete himself during the 1940’s and 1950’s playing on the Midland Dow Championship fast pitch teams. Terry had an enjoyable visit back to Midland to visit with family and friends.
The 39-39 New York Mets are playing through numerous injuries this year and have provided manager Collins with getting the most out of his team. Still the Mets are in fourth place in the National League East.
Heading down to the visiting manager’s office at Comerica Park was exciting to see a friend from many years ago who played recreational sports right here in Bay City. We the members of the media were lead into Terry’s office with about 20 members crowded in there. The New York media started firing away with questions some of which I was going to ask of Terry. Terry responded to what impact his father had on his career and start in baseball. “My father purchased my first glove, bat and baseball when I was 8 years old. He then followed and assisted my career along the way.”
Terry was asked about the importance of coming back to Michigan to manage in Detroit. “I managed at the old Tiger Stadium when I with the California Angels in 1997 -1999. Growing up a Tiger fan it was very special for me to come back to Tiger Stadium.” I asked Terry about the numbers of people from the Tri-City area that he expected to see over the next three days. “I will deal with all the requests for tickets the best that I can and will say hello to all the local people. My father will be coming to Wednesday’s and Thursday’s game.”
Then the questions turned to asking the 7th year manager on the progress of players on his team with injuries that they have had this year. A Detroit reporter asked Collins about his relationship with current Tiger manager Jim Leyland. “I have a good relationship with Jim and learned a lot about the game from him. I learned on how to handle superstars and get the most from them.”
The media session lasted about 15 minutes and as all the reporters left his office I waited till all cleared to say hello to a former teammate. Terry was surprised to see me again and I had wanted to give him a couple of our team photo’s from the Touch Football days. When he looked at the 1979 Sempliner’s National Championship team photo he quickly said “What a bunch of bandits. That was some group of guys.” Now it was time to head out onto the field to get some photos.
The game between the Tigers and Mets didn’t turn out to be much of a game with the Mets pounding the Tigers 14-3. Tiger starting pitcher Rick Porcello got pounded for 7 runs early. The Mets scored 7 runs in the 4th inning after 2 outs which was highlighted by 2 grand slams during the game. The Mets shortstop and National League leading hitter Jose Reyes went 4 for 4 and a walk to lead the Mets. R.A. Dickey pitched 7 strong innings for the Mets to pick up the victory.
One could easily see that Midland’s Terry Collins was enjoying his return visit to the State of Michigan and seeing numerous friends and family. Its not often that a small town has one of its own become a Major League manager who also played recreational sports right here in the Great Lakes Bay region.