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Photo by Shane Wynn
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Photo by Shane Wynn
David Wallace is no stranger to the local baseball scene.
Growing up in Nashville, Tenn., Wallace loved baseball, especially the Atlanta Braves. He became a fan of Chipper Jones and admired the third baseman’s calm, confident and clutch play.
Although Wallace attended Vanderbilt University on a football scholarship, majoring in human and organizational development, he couldn’t stay away from baseball for long.
He spent three seasons as a catcher with the Akron Aeros and seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians as a non-drafted free agent. He also served four campaigns as manager in the Cleveland Indians' player development system, was Major League staff assistant for the Indians, and was manager of the Lake County Captains.
Armed with a couple of bags of sunflower seeds for the dugout and a love for local sports, Wallace returns to Akron as the RubberDucks’ 15th manager since the team began in 1989.
Where did your love for baseball originate?
DW: I realized early in life baseball was a passion of mine. I always enjoyed the camaraderie of the baseball teams I played for, [and] I loved playing every day as opposed to once or twice a week. Baseball has always been my favorite sport.
How did you become manager for the RubberDucks?
DW: I enjoyed six great years as a player in the Indians minor league system. Toward the end of my career, I had discussions with Ross Atkins, the vice president and director of player development, about becoming a manager in our system.
They gave me the opportunity to spend 2009 and 2010 in Cleveland as an assistant to the Major League staff. That was valuable experience for when I started to manage in 2011 at Mahoning Valley of the New York/Penn League. Since then, I have moved up one level each year. I feel incredibly fortunate to have started my coaching career when I did and to do it in the Indians organization.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
DW: There are so many aspects of the season I love. I’m looking forward to seeing Canal Park and all the improvements happening there. Opening Day is always the best day of the year, but the most rewarding aspect to the season is working with and watching these guys develop as players and young men.
How is the season looking so far?
DW: I’m very excited about our roster. We have guys who have been in Akron before, as well as players getting their first taste of Double A. [The team is] very talented from top to bottom.
How did spring training go?
DW: These guys have put in a ton of hard work. Most people have no clue how much work goes into preparing for a season. These guys have put in countless hours in the weight room, batting cages, bullpens and on the field to get ready for 2014. We use spring training to gradually build up the players’ volume to a point where they’re fresh for the beginning of the season, but also ready to play six or seven days a week.
What is it like to coach for a team you once played for?
DW: It’s very cool to come back and see what has changed and what has stayed the same. (Team owner) Ken Babby and the staff are doing an amazing job creating a great atmosphere at Canal Park that wasn’t always there when I was a player.
What do you think of the new name, logo and rebranding?
DW: Everyone I talk to wants a hat or shirt from our team shop, [and] I really like the logo and uniforms. When people start associating the name with the logo and team, I think all the fuss will dissipate.
What is your favorite part of the city of Akron?
DW: I love the energy and excitement that comes with summer in Akron. Once it warms up, everyone gets outside to enjoy it.
/ Writer Caitlyn Callahan is a senior at KSU working on her bachelor’s in magazine journalism.
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