Local man gives up scorebook, returns to coaching | News, Sports, Jobs | #sports | #elderly | #seniors
NILES — The MLB Draft League was created to provide an opportunity for draft-eligible players to showcase their talent ahead of the MLB draft.
As it turns out, the league will also provide a local man the opportunity to showcase his coaching skills.
Vienna Township resident Craig Antush has been named assistant pitching coach/first-base coach of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Antush was assigned the positions by the MLB Draft League and Prep Baseball Report. The two entities were responsible for assembling the coaching staffs of the six-team league.
“I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity, I’m excited about the potential of this new league,” Antush said. “This is a whole new animal, so I’m sure we’re going to face some challenges early on, but we’re excited to face anything that comes our way.
“This league is going to focus on experienced players who are battling for a spot in the draft. In that aspect, it’s going to be very competitive and I expect that we’ll see a lot of talent come our way.”
The Scrappers are joined by the Trenton Thunder (formerly of the Double-A Eastern League) and Frederick Keys (formerly of the Class-A Carolina League) along with the Williamsport Crosscutters, State College Spikes and West Virginia Black Bears (all formerly of the New York-Penn League) as founding members of the MLB Draft League.
“It was great that the Scrappers were affiliated with the (Cleveland) Indians all those years, that was a huge bonus for the fan base,” Antush said. “But now we’re going to have the eyes of every Major League team on us. Our players could eventually end up on any big league roster. That will be pretty neat to see down the road.”
While this will be the first time Antush will don a Scrappers coaching uniform, it won’t be his first summer with the team. In fact, for the past 14 years Antush has been one of the most familiar behind-the-scenes faces at Eastwood Field.
Since 2007 Antush has served as the official scorekeeper of the Scrappers. He has logged every pitch and every at-bat at all Scrappers home games. During that span, he has also served as the Scrappers’ batting practice pitcher prior to every home game — a role he will maintain in 2021.
Antush has thrown batting practice through nine managerial changes.
“I pretty much kept having the job handed down to me based largely on the recommendation of the previous manager,” Antush said. “I’ve been pretty lucky to work with some great guys over the years. And I’ve seen some great players come through the Valley.”
Antush also holds an annual summer youth baseball camp at Eastwood Field and provides private lessons from his Vienna home.
“I love the teaching aspect of baseball,” said Antush, who recently retired as a teacher in the Hermitage School District. “I’ve been pretty busy with private lessons, even through COVID. I hope to be able to continue with the summer camps.”
A native of Reading, Pa., Antush has been heavily involved in baseball his entire life. He played collegiately at Alabama, where he compiled a career record of 9-3 with seven saves. During his senior season, in 1983, the Crimson Tide reached the College World Series title game.
Antush went on to coach at various levels. He was the head coach at Marshall University from 1996-98 after serving as pitching coach for the Thundering Herd for five seasons from 1991-95. He later spent nearly two decades as a pitching coach at Youngstown State University.
Antush admits he will miss his role as scorekeeper, “especially all the fun I had with the crew that was in the press box.” However, the opportunity to rejoin the coaching ranks — travel and all — was too good to pass up.
“The first thing I was asked was, ‘Are you willing to travel?’ ” Antush said. “Absolutely. After a year of no baseball, I’m just so excited that we again have Scrappers baseball.”
“I can’t wait.”
The Scrappers open their season May 24 at West Virginia. They will play their first home game on May 26 against State College. Ticket packages are on sale now.
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