Bridgeport, CT–Tuesday night’s Atlantic League All-Star Game was a bittersweet moment for Bluefish relief pitcher Andy Weimer. The righty made his first and, most likely, his last All-Star appearance of his professional baseball career pitching one scoreless inning in the Liberty Division’s 7-5 victory. The sidearm closer from New Hartford, NY will be closing the book on his playing days at the end of the season to open up an opportunity back home to coach the Utica College men’s baseball team.
On June 12, athletic director Jim Spartano named Weimer the head baseball coach of Utica College. Weimer, now in his fifth season of professional baseball and second with the Bluefish, is ironically amidst the best season of his career. In 13 games, Weimer is 1-0 with a team-best 0.98 ERA and 10 strikeouts. The new head coach has held opponents to a .217 batting average and has given up just two earned runs.
It was a tough decision, but he is confident that he has made the right choice.
“Obviously I want to keep playing because I’m pitching so well,” said Weimer. “But at the same time, if I can’t get picked up with the numbers I’m putting up and the success I am having now then I guess it’s a good sign that the time is right.”
Coaching was something that Weimer always planned on getting involved in after his baseball career. Despite playing professional baseball for the past five years, he has found time to be the assistant coach at Mohawk Valley Community College from 2004-2009 and he has been an instructor at the Field of Dreams athletic facility in Utica since 2003.
The Pioneers certainly can use Weimer’s pitching knowledge, as the team compiled a 7.10 ERA and a 5-27 record this year. Junior captain and starting pitcher Chris Pallas is excited to play for the current Bluefish next year.
“I am extremely excited,” said Pallas. “During the interview I felt he had a world of baseball knowledge and experience. He is a great candidate for the job and I am 100% positive that he will help our pitching staff in every aspect.”
Weimer believes that his professional baseball experience is one reason why he was chosen for the job and he plans on basing his baseball philosophy on a strong pitching staff with a good defense behind them.
“I believe that if we turn the blowout games into competitive games then that’s a matter of two or three wins instead of losses next year,” said Weimer. If we build at that rate every year then we should be a good program in the next few years.”
Assistant Coach Chris Parkinson has been in constant contact with Weimer since he took the position nearly three weeks ago. Parkinson met with Weimer this past Monday and came away with a “great vibe.”
“He has a very calm and collective, intelligent demeanor,” said Parkinson. “He doesn’t seem like he is going to be overly taken back or surprised by anything.”
The six-foot-two inch relief pitcher has been accustomed to getting out of jams or troublesome situations throughout his career. Weimer was selected out of Le Moyne College in the 15th round (428th overall) by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 2003 Major League Baseball draft.
At Le Moyne, Weimer was 20-7 with a 2.13 ERA with 22 saves in 85 career appearances. As a senior, he went 7-1 with a 0.74 ERA and seven saves as the Dolphins won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament. Part of his success was a result of his sidearm pitching style on the mound.
Growing up, Weimer always threw sidearm when he played baseball at the park or on the playground. It just felt natural to him. When he arrived on campus, Weimer was not sure if he would be a shortstop or a pitcher after playing varsity baseball at New Hartford High School.
“I was a shortstop growing up so I would always throw the ball across my body,” said Weimer. “When I pitched, I would throw more of a three-quarters angle. The coach convinced me to throw sidearm and I picked it up immediately with instant success.”
The sidearm approach helped Weimer become a powerful closer for the New Haven County Cutters of the independent Can-Am League in 2006 and 2007 as he racked up 20 saves both years.
With the season-long struggles at the back-end of the bullpen, Weimer may begin to see more save situations the rest of the season. For now, Weimer is just focused on finishing his last season the best he can and possibly getting one last shot at affiliated baseball.
“I never got the opportunity to play at Double-A or Triple-A which is something I really wish I had done,” said Weimer. “But who knows, maybe in the next few months something might happen and I will definitely pursue the opportunity if given.”
Parkinson is assured that the experience Weimer is getting this year on the mound for the ‘Fish will gain him immediate respect in Utica’s clubhouse next year.
“I can assure you that he will be respected immediately just by in the way I saw his presence during the interview process, from meeting and talking to him daily and from seeing the letter he wrote to every player,” said Parkinson.