Oklahoma native will serve as assistant athletic trainer of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2012 season

Former Oklahoma City 89ers and RedHawks trainer Greg Harrel reflects on his experiences as a pro baseball trainer as he readies for the upcoming season.
by Bryan Painter Modified: February 12, 2012 at 11:30 am •  Published: February 12, 2012

Memories such as 18 guys gathered around major league pitcher Danny Darwin, who was down on a rehab assignment from the Rangers, as he told stories during a rain delay in the weight room at All Sports Stadium.

Memories such as when former RedHawk Tom Quinlan withheld some information, at least for a few days.

“He was a hockey player who chose baseball,” Harrel said. “He used to block third base like a catcher. Three days after he blocked somebody, he came up to me, raised his pants and showed me his leg where he'd been cleated. Then he laughed and said, ‘I didn't show it to you that night because I didn't want any stitches.' He was crazy.”

That practical joker

Memories of former 89er and well-known practical joker Mike Berger.

One day Harrel got a phone call on the pay phone near the clubhouse. The guy on the other end identified himself as Branch Rickey, then president of the American Association. He wanted to inform Harrel of his appointment to the 1992 Triple-A All-Star game in Richmond, Va.

“The whole time I'm thinking, ‘It's Berger,' but I was nice and polite and just went along with it,” he said. “I didn't say anything to anyone. Then about a week later, I got an official letter. I had been named to the All-Star game. Until that point, I was thinking, ‘Berger's not going to get me.' He had got so many people on stuff like that.”

That turned out to be Harrel's first of two selections to the Triple-A All-Star game.

But his most recent favorite baseball memory came last October. Harrel and his wife, Michelle, have three children: Ryan, 13, Joshua, 10, and Emilie, 7. The boys got a feeling that Dad might be headed back to the majors and were excited.

So every day for about two weeks when they jumped into Dad's Ford pickup after school, they'd ask and Harrel would say, ‘Nothing yet.'” Then the call came Oct. 13.

“The first time I went to the majors in 2003, I was mainly excited for me and my wife, because that's what we'd been working toward,” he said. “This time I was also excited for our children.

“I think baseball kind of brings the kid out in everyone.”

That's something to savor.


by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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at a glance

Greg Harrel

• Age: 48.

• Resides: Cashion.

• Family: Wife, Michelle. Three children — sons Ryan, 13, and Joshua, 10, and daughter Emilie, 7.

• Education: Earned his bachelor's degree in physical education with a business minor from Central State University (now University of Central Oklahoma).

Career

Enters his sixth year with the Dodgers' organization and his first season as an assistant athletic trainer for the major league club. Harrel served as the club's Triple-A athletic trainer with Las Vegas (2007-08) and Albuquerque (2009-11) and was appointed as the organization's head minor league athletic trainer in 2008. Harrel worked for the Rangers (1986-2003), Marlins (2004, also in Albuquerque) and Padres (2006), including one season on Texas' major league staff in 2003.

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