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Wotus' impact all over Giants' success as he hits milestone

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Ron Wotus

The Giants' clubhouse is filled with some of the best baseball players of this generation, but when it comes to pure athleticism, few in orange and black can match the silver-haired coach who has been with the organization longer than most of them have been alive. 

A young Ron Wotus was a three-sport star at Bacon Academy in Connecticut, good enough to be named All-State in baseball, basketball and soccer. He set a state scoring mark on the soccer field, averaged 30 points per game in the gym, and stood out so much as a middle infielder that the Pittsburgh Pirates took him in the 16th round of the 1979 draft. 

Wotus' teenage years revolved around sports, so much so that teachers started to approach his basketball coach with concerns. "He's not going to be in sports his whole life," they would say. "He needs to pay more attention to schoolwork."

That was more than four decades ago, and Wotus still is out on the field proving them wrong.

When the Giants walked off the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, the clubhouse celebration did not center on Kris Bryant, who had the final blow, or Buster Posey, who reached base five times. The players, coaches and manager Gabe Kapler took a moment to honor Wotus, who picked up his 2,000th career win as a coach with the organization.

 

That's a milestone that only 11 big league managers have hit.

"I think it speaks volumes to the managers I've worked for here and the players that have come through here, and the success of the organization has really put me in a position to have 2,000 wins in this uniform," Wotus said. "I've been very grateful that the organization has valued what I've done and I've been able to stay here for 24 seasons. Without the success of the organization you're not going to win 2,000 games, so it's not just the managers and the coaches that have done this, the general managers that have put the teams together, but the players.

"We've had a lot of great players come through here and I'm excited right now that we have a chance to do something special as well."

Wotus has been there for three prior title runs, but he also has seen the down times. He has seen it all, really. He started with the organization as a minor league coach in 1990 and joined Dusty Baker's staff as third base coach eight years later. Felipe Alou kept Wotus on when he took over, and Bruce Bochy did the same. 

By the time Bochy retired, Wotus had become the first in franchise history to coach more than 20 years for the Giants, and Gabe Kapler saw what three previous managers had when he put his staff together. Kapler hired nearly an entirely new and young staff, but as he was introduced in November of 2019, two longtime members of the organization sat in on the press conference: Buster Posey and Wotus, the lone holdover from Bochy's staff.

Ten minutes after the Giants won Tuesday night, Kapler sat down in that same room and began his press conference by honoring Wotus. He said his "fingerprints are all over the success of this franchise."

"He's so influential in the dugout, so influential in the coaches' room and in the clubhouse," Kapler said. "I think we look to Ron for experience. Quite frankly, we have a pretty young staff, a very energetic and creative staff, but it's really nice to have somebody who has been around these players for as long as he has, this city as long as he has, and this organization, because he knows it inside and out. It's always nice to have his wisdom. 

"I had a good conversation with him prior to the game. He flagged a few things for me that he thought were important. He always seems to have the right timing and the right words of advice. I look up to him, respect him, and I think he does a bang up job for us." 

This is not an industry that lends itself to longevity, something Kapler -- who lasted just two seasons in Philadelphia -- knows well. But Wotus, 60, is in his 34th season with the Giants and 24th on the big league coaching staff, and he still appears to be at the top of his game.

 

Kapler views Wotus as far more than his third base coach, but during games that's his primary job, and it's one that often puts a coach in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Wotus has been remarkably successful with his decisions, though, and had the Giants not blown a lead in the ninth on Tuesday, his send of Posey would have led to the winning run. 

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An hour later, Posey joined the rest of the clubhouse in raising a toast to the man who decided four decades ago to make sports his life. Wotus hasn't looked back since. 

"What he brings to the club is really immeasurable," Posey said. "I think a lot of people that know Wo know that he probably would have been a really successful manager, as well. The Giants have been really fortunate to have him here as long as they have."

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