Twins coach Evers to retire at end of season

September 5th, 2021

When Bill Evers took his place on the dugout rail for Saturday's matchup between the Twins and Rays, he stood next to one of the big league managers who had grown from his influence and across the diamond from another.

Neither Twins manager Rocco Baldelli nor Rays manager Kevin Cash has ever known baseball without Evers, whose 46-year career in professional baseball began before either skipper was born and has spanned five organizations -- including, most recently, the Rays and Twins.

That storied career will come to its conclusion at the end of the 2021 season, as the Twins announced on Saturday that Evers, 67, will retire following a coaching career that began in 1980 and will conclude with three years as a Major League coach on Baldelli's staff in Minnesota.

"This is someone who I respect at a level that you really rarely get a chance to do in this game and appreciate someone the way that I appreciate him in this game," Baldelli said. "I've known him for basically my entire professional career. He has the respect of everybody that he's ever been around in every way. He's seen and done so many things in this game."

Evers said Sunday that he realized it was time to step aside last season, when the Twins asked him to stay home during the COVID-impacted 2020 season in the interest of his health, and he internalized how much his wife, Patricia, had gone through in the last four decades due to the constant demands of Evers' baseball schedule.

For the first time in nearly a half-century, he'll have time to relax and not think about baseball -- unless he's throwing batting practice to his grandchildren. He plans to travel to Scotland and Ireland for golf and drinks with his wife, his brother and his brother's wife, among a list of travel-related items he has in mind.

"At the end of September, we'll be married 40 years," Evers said. "It was time that you realize exactly how much she's put into this and what we went through, and how many times we moved and all that good stuff, and how supportive she's been, as well as the kids with me, and being able to do what I love to do."

Evers' dizzying array of positions on his seemingly mile-long resume begins with stints as Minor League catching coordinator in the Cubs' and Yankees' organizations and moves to managerial positions at every level of the Minor Leagues, from the Rookie-level GCL Rays to three different Triple-A teams.

He spent two separate stints at the Major League level, serving as Joe Maddon's bench coach in Tampa Bay from 2006-07 -- while Baldelli was a player there -- and Baldelli's Major League coach from '19-21. In all, he spent 23 years in the Tampa Bay organization in seemingly every capacity, from Minor League manager to bench coach to scout to Minor League field coordinator, before he joined the Twins.

"You're dealing with young players that think they should be in the big leagues," said Cash, who was managed by Evers in Triple-A Durham during the 2005 season. "You're dealing with players that come down from the big leagues that think they should be in the big leagues. And it takes a special personality to do that. I think you can really go back to Bill and how he just stayed consistent, day in and day out."

Evers has served in seemingly every capacity, that is, except Major League manager. But don't worry -- he'll get a few of those memories to take with him in his final year, too, when Baldelli takes paternity leave for the birth of his first child, a daughter, starting Sunday evening and leaves the team in Evers' capable hands for three or four games.

"I sleep very, very good at night knowing that Bill can handle everything going on and allows everything to carry on," Baldelli said. "It probably adds a little something when he's in charge, too. Maybe some things that I don't bring to the table. He's good at what he does."

"You think I'd make ESPN if I got thrown out?" Evers asked with a wry smile.

Baldelli and Cash agreed that when the former was first named Twins manager before the 2019 season as the youngest skipper in MLB, without any prior managerial experience, that having Evers' steadying influence as a teacher on his staff made all the sense in the world -- and indeed, Evers was part of the push Baldelli and the Twins made to consecutive division titles in '19 and '20, though he watched the latter run from afar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's awesome in that I still get to converse with [former pupils] and understand some of the things that they've incorporated in their managing style and things like that," Evers said. "Kevin, Rocco, [Derek Shelton], all those guys I've had interaction with, and it's always good to talk to them about strategies and things that they see going on in games and sharing what your thoughts are. The interaction is awesome."

Baldelli won't soon forget that influence.

"Bill is one of a kind with what he brings to the table and really, how he approaches his role on the staff," Baldelli said. "I think people look to him in a different way with maybe some reverence and respect, and understanding that he has experiences and knowledge that are different and maybe more vast than the rest of us here.

"Again, I've been very lucky that he's been willing to spend this time in his career with us over here. It's been three years, a pretty amazing run for all of us, but we wouldn't be here without Bill."