CEDAR RAPIDS — Tom Lawless’ baseball resume takes up two or three pages. Perhaps four or five.
There is virtually nothing the newest member of the Cedar Rapids Baseball Club’s Hall of Fame hasn’t done.
He played eight seasons as an infielder in the major leagues, the only guy ever to be traded for Pete Rose. He managed and coached at about every professional level and about everywhere, with that not being too much of an exaggeration.
The guy helped guide the Chinese national team for three years, for crying out loud. At the other end of the spectrum, he received an opportunity to skipper the Houston Astros the final month of the 2014 season.
But the 59-year-old goes into 2016 without a team, without an organization. Without a gig.
“Nothing. So far,” Lawless said Wednesday night, prior to the Cedar Rapids Kernels Hot Stove Banquet at the DoubleTree by Hilton. “It might be time for me to forget about it. I’ve been in baseball for over 30 years. The game is changing, going in a different direction. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I guess we’ll find out.
“We’ll just see what happens. I’ve got no problem staying home one year and hanging out with mom and the kids. Be able to do things in the summertime I haven’t been able to do in 25 years. So it’s not all that bad.”
Lawless, Reggie Sanders and Dale Brodt were officially inducted Wednesday night into the CRBC’s Hall of Fame.
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Sanders played outfield for the 1990 Cedar Rapids Reds before embarking on a 17-year MLB career. Brodt was at the public-address microphone for over 1,700 Kernels games.
Lawless managed the Kernels three seasons, leading the club to its last Midwest League championship in 1994. It’s a club he still remembers fondly.
“We had a lot of characters on that team, and I think that’s why you win, because you have characters,” Lawless said. “Not everybody’s the same. We didn’t win the first half, came up short. But the second half, we ended up playing good baseball at the end of the season. That’s what carried us in the playoffs. I think that was a big factor. We just got on a roll in late August and kept going.”
Lawless was infield coach for the Corpus Christi Hooks in 2015. That’s Houston’s Double-A farm club.
There is no MLB organization more analytically minded than the Astros, who, for instance, employ a defensive shift against every opposing hitter, including at the minor-league level. The club uses advanced sabermetrics for everything it does, again, including at the minor-league level.
“It’s inevitable there’s going to be change. Whether it’s good or bad, the people upstairs decide that,” Lawless said. “If they decide they want to go in that direction, you go in that direction. You follow along, like it or not. Try to implement what they want, and see how it works. They’ve got different ideas than baseball people, and it’s kind of hard sometimes.”
He was asked his opinion of sabermetrics.
“I think it’s a tool if you use in the right way, it’s valuable,” he said. “But baseball is such a game of feel. Computers don’t have no feel. You’ve got to put two and two together. All that information they have and give us is good information. It’s going to help. But it’s not the only information. And that’s where sometimes you bang heads.”
In other Kernels news, head groundskeeper Jesse Roeder recently was honored as the 2015 Iowa Sports Turf Manager of the Year. Roeder has been C.R.’s Sports Turf Manager since 2003.
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Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium also was named the 2015 Iowa Sports Turf Managers Association’s Baseball Field of the Year.
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