Former Major Leaguer Wes Helms ‘Stoked’ To Manage National Team In 2015 Under Armour All-America Game
Former Major League infielder Wes Helms, who played parts of 13 seasons in the majors with Atlanta, Milwaukee, Florida and Philadelphia will lead the National Team in the eighth annual Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, tomorrow afternoon at Wrigley Field here in Chicago.
Helms is receiving his first opportunity at managing in the All-America Game after serving as a coach previously and is savoring the chance at being chosen to manage some of the nation’s premier baseball talent. It’s something that he envisions as a stepping stone further a life goal, one that has continued to be important to him, well after his major league days have ended.
“It’s an unreal feeling – my goal in life is to be a major league manager,” says Helms.
“I played 12 years in the big leagues and I am passionate about the game. I love the game and didn’t want to stop with just being a player, so once Baseball Factory and Under Armour brought me here three years ago, I fell in love with the event. Being with (Larry) Bowa the first year and last year with (Sean) Casey, it’s just a well-rounded event and you can’t replace it in words. When they called and told me I was going to manage, I was almost in tears. I was happy, stoked… just being around these young kids, following them after they’re drafted, that’s what I get the enjoyment out of. They’re really following in our footsteps for what we did as major leaguers and its fun to be around them.”
Helms knows the difference between managing up-and-coming talent in the All-America Game and managing established major leaguers in a veteran clubhouse. Still, the former 10th round selection of the Atlanta Braves in 1994 is confident the lessons he takes from this experience can go a long way in serving as familiarity with any potential future dream of managing.
“Between the All-America Game and managing in the majors, you have a team of coaches that allow you to be successful, the difference is in the majors, you are managing the personalities as well. This definitely gets your feet wet for what’s to come and what to expect if it were to become a job. Again, being here, you’re with the kids watching them laugh and watching them do their thing on the field. You can’t begin to understand what it means to be out here with them.”
Being a first-time manager in this game, one of Helms’ goals to accomplish is effectively setting the tone early in the ball game and putting pressure on the opponent.
“You gotta set the tone, you can’t wait for the other team to set the tone first, you have to show them that, “hey this is our game”, says Helms.
“If you set back and wait on the three-run homer, or wait for something big to happen, it’s gonna bite you eventually. I’m big on, if we’re the home team, I want our pitcher going out there, lighting it up, throwing strikes and getting hitters to understand that we are coming quick. If we’re the visitor, getting the leadoff hitter on base and make things happen right off the bat. Set the pace of the game so that the team in the other dugout would start to see that we’re playing a fast-paced game. I like being aggressive, I like to challenge the other team right off the bat.”
The manager Helms will attempt to challenge off the bat is Bill Ripken, manager of the American squad, who played 12 seasons in the majors, mostly with the Baltimore Orioles and alongside big brother, Cal Ripken, Jr.
“I’ve known Billy for about three years now. Of course, he comes from an unreal family of baseball talent. Billy in a few words is fun, he’s energetic and loves the game of baseball and is passionate and it shows with the way he’s here doing the workout and being in the dugout and on the mic with MLB Network. He’s one of the best people to have here around these kids, they need to see passion and fire, because that’s what it’s all about in the bigs.”