Home Local Sports Oakland A’s Pitching Coach Scott Emerson Enjoys All-Star Break at Home in Richmond...

Oakland A’s Pitching Coach Scott Emerson Enjoys All-Star Break at Home in Richmond County

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ROCKINGHAM — While the biggest names in Major League Baseball have convened at Marlins Park in Miami this week for the mid-summer All-Star Game, there are some major leaguers who are enjoying the break elsewhere. And Oakland Athletics pitching coach Scott Emerson has found returning home to Rockingham to be a nice break from the long haul of a 162-game season.

Emerson, who is originally from Baltimore, Md., makes his offseason home in Rockingham with his wife Jill. Despite the All-Star break only lasting four days, Emerson is glad to be able to visit with friends and family before heading back to Oakland Friday for the club’s game against the Cleveland Indians.

In what is an obvious distance between the Athletics’ home park in Oakland and their home in Rockingham, the Emersons have made it work since the mid-1990s when they met. Jill, who grew up in Richmond County, was attending the wedding of a childhood friend in town, who happened to be marrying one of Emerson’s teammates, Trot Nixon. Jill and Emerson hit it off, and the rest is history. The Emersons married in 2001.

“It’s great to be home,” Emerson said. “It is hard (being on the road so often), but it’s been our lifestyle since 1996. We get a lot of east coast visits. But we just make it work.”

On June 15, 2017, Emerson was promoted to the role of the A’s pitching coach, after having spent the previous two seasons as the bullpen coach. Emerson has been a part of the Oakland organization since 2003, and noted that he’s coached at every level within the organization. But it has taken a long time to reach this desired position, and it all started with him playing high school ball as a left-handed pitcher at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Ariz.

Originally drafted out of high school by the San Diego Padres in the 21st round of the 1990 draft, Emerson chose not to sign and pursued college ball at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. It was the following year, 1991, that he was drafted again, this time in the 40th round, and signed with the Baltimore Orioles during his sophomore season.

Emerson’s professional career began with the Bluefield Orioles of the Appalachian League in 1992, where he posted a 4-3 record through 11 starts. The next season, he was moved to Single-A Albany, where he won 10 games in 1993.  Early in the 1995 season, Emerson was traded to the Boston Red Sox, and reached the highest level of his career with Double-A affiliate the Trenton Thunder. After being released in 1997 by Boston, Emerson signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching in three games before finishing his playing career with Rio Grande Valley of the Independent Texas-Louisiana League.

The southpaw pitcher finished with a 27-29 career record, a 4.16 ERA in 135 games, 79 of which were starts. As great as pursuing his dream as a professional ballplayer was, Emerson knew that he had a lot more left to give the game. Hence finding his true love: coaching.

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“Me getting to the big leagues as a pitcher wasn’t a guarantee,” Emerson said as he remembered a time he was asked why he was watching infield practice. “I had to soak up all the information because I was going to try to get there as a coach. At the end of the day, that’s what I ended up doing.”

In 2000, Emerson got his break into coaching, as he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates Gulf Coast Rookie League club as the pitching coach in Bradenton, Fla. He stayed with the Rookie League for two seasons, before doing one season with the Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters. After three seasons with Pittsburgh, Emerson was ready to move on to something more fulfilling. The Oakland Athletics hired him, which is where he’s been ever since.

At the start of the 2003 season, Emerson was designated as the pitching coach for the Single-A Modesto Athletics, and stayed with the team when it switched affiliates to the Stockton Ports two years later. After two years with Stockton, he was promoted to Double-A Midland, where he did a five-year stint with the RockHounds from 2007-2011. His last minor league tenure came with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats in 2012, before becoming Oakland’s minor league roving pitching instructor for two seasons. He joined the Major League club’s bullpen in 2015.

“I don’t know how many people there are in the game that can say they’ve coached every level,” Emerson said modestly. “That’s something that I’m proud of; the fact that I started at the bottom, I wasn’t a name player. I got (to where I am) because I can coach.”

In an era where technology and sports science have a major impact on professional sports, Emerson is tasked with using them to put together game plans and scouting reports. It’s his goal to get each pitcher on his staff one day better and help lead the team in the direction of winning every game. Along with bullpen coach Garvin Alston, Emerson analyzes game film to ensure his pitchers are aware of what they need to do against each opposing batter.

Emerson also doesn’t take his job for granted, as he understands how lucky he is to wake up and go to the ballpark every day. With all the perks of being at the Major League level, it’s the A’s organization and the impact of coaching that makes it all worthwhile.

“The A’s have a lot of loyal people,” Emerson noted. “The front office, if you work hard and do your job, they’ll reward you for it. To have the opportunity Oakland has given me, is something I’ll be thankful for forever. Oakland is a great place.

 

“At the end of the day, the most rewarding thing is seeing a smile on the pitcher’s face. Knowing I have an impact on guys is really rewarding.”

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Kyle Pillar is a nine-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.