Robin Ventura still feels like a kid when he walks through the gates of Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Ventura, the former Oklahoma State baseball star who just completed his first season as the Chicago White Sox manager, was back in Stillwater on Friday to headline a fundraising event for the Friends of the OSU Library.
Ventura spoke about his first year managing a major league club, his memories of OSU and Josh Holliday taking over the Cowboy baseball program.
Q: What's your favorite part about coming back to Stillwater?
A: Even though a lot of things have changed here, there's still plenty that are still the same. The house I lived in is still here. The stadium's pretty much the same. Even talking to the baseball team, you want to say something profound and everything, but I think for me, every time I walk through the gates at the stadium, you remember things that have happened to you in your life. How old you were, what your thoughts were, where you were going and what you were going to do. That's really the favorite (thing) about coming back — you feel younger coming back, even though I'm old.
What did you learn from your first year of managing? Was there ever a time when it was overwhelming?
Once you get into the baseball part of it, it's just baseball. You do run through rough patches, and that's the part of baseball that's the hardest is that the season is very long and it's every day. That's really the toughest thing is to battle that every day, to keep spirits up and motivation and all that kind of stuff. There was never a point where you sit there and think, “I truly made a mistake and I shouldn't be doing this.” It was definitely fun, but it's hard. It's not easy to be able to do that all the time, and that is what I do remember about playing is being able to show up every day and be the same, basically. It sounds boring, but I'm good at that.
What advice would you give to Josh Holliday as a first-year head coach?
He knows what he's doing. This is one of those things that was made for him. He was groomed to do this for a long time, and probably at this place. Having watched him over the last seven or eight years, you get to see a kid that's worked his way through the college ranks and done a lot of great things, and I'm excited for him.
Do you see yourself still managing 20 years from now?
I don't know. It's fun for right now, where I'm at, what I'm doing. Who knows how long. I don't think these jobs are made to last forever. Guys come and go, and it's one of those things that for players too, I think they probably need a fresh voice at times, to have that change. You try to go as hard as you can and have as much fun as you can do it. And whatever happens, happens. I love where I'm at. I love the place I'm at as far as the city and the team, so I hope it lasts a while.