By Jamie Magone and James Burns
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Former New York Mets Manager and 2015 National League Manager of the Year Terry Collins spoke in front of members of the Niagara University Baseball team as well as alumni, friends and fans at the third Annual First Pitch Dinner at the Four Points Sheraton in Niagara Falls. Niagara Wire writers Jamie Magone and James Burns caught up with Collins before the dinner to ask him about speaking at the event, as well as some predictions for the upcoming Major League Baseball Season.
James Burns: What do you hope to share with the players here tonight?
Terry Collins: The thing they need to learn is how important sports is for a lot of reasons. Number one I’ve always said I thought if you were in sports it helps you throughout life, you know you’ve got to be disciplined because you’ve got practices you have to make and times you’ve got to keep, you’ve got to keep yourself in shape, you know, teamwork. For heaven sakes unless you own your own business you’re going to have to work with people, you’ve got to be able to communicate and get along with people, you know, you have to be able to be competitive, and the biggest thing for baseball players, we fail all the time, so you’ve got to be able to pick yourself up after every at-bat. You know if you strike out with the bases loaded first time up, hey look you’ve got three more at-bats, so you’ve got to learn how to bounce back from adversity. If you’re an athlete and you’re used to fighting through adversity, I think you can fight through life.
JB: Going off that, in what circumstances could you see them applying those lessons directly?
TC: To play baseball you’ve got to have some self-discipline; you’ve got to prepare. I know talking to our guys in the major leagues about preparation, you know everybody in baseball is talented, it’s those who can apply it. So if you have self-discipline and you know how to take care of yourself and you’re prepared to go into a job interview and you’ve done all of your research you’re going to have a better chance of being successful.
Jamie Magone: We read that your professional career started in Niagara Falls?
TC: That’s true, in 1971.
JM: Do you still have a relationship with the community?
TC: No. After I left in ’71 I didn’t come back even when I was in Buffalo I never came over. I met Jon (Dandes, a professor at Niagara University and President of Baseball Operations for the Buffalo Bisons) when I was managing the Angels and we played in Toronto I drove and we met up here.
JB: Where are you originally from then?
TC: Middle of Michigan. I ended up in Niagara Falls after I signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. They used to have a Penn League team here.
JB: How did you end up speaking at this event?
TC: Through Jon, I met Father Maher and he actually sent me some letters during the season just to say hi and good luck and hang in there and that kind of stuff. At the end of the year, John called me and said “hey they’re having this baseball banquet and Father Maher wants to know if you would be willing to come up and speak at it?” So I said sure. I live in Florida so I haven’t been this cold in a long time.
JM: I have to sneak in one Mets question, what’s your prediction for the upcoming season?
TC: I think if those pitchers are healthy they’re going to be fine. The game is about pitching; you saw the World Series. Lately now in playoff baseball starting pitchers can’t go five innings, so you better have a good bullpen. I told Joe Maddon one time after they won the World Series, “how do you feel about the way the game is being played? Starting pitchers are four-inning guys now,” and he said, “Terry, I saw your pitching last year, none of us have what you got.” So if those guys are healthy the Mets will be fine, and [Mickey Callaway] will be a genius.
Terry Collins currently works in the front office as a special assistant to the general manager for the New York Mets after stepping down as manager after the 2017 season.
Image credit: By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons