Former Met Mike Jacobs is ready for his new career as a manager. “I’ve already got the itch to get going,” said the new manager of the Batavia Muckdogs, the Class-A short season team of the Miami Marlins.
Jacobs last played in the majors in 2012, and had played in the Atlantic League and in Mexico before retiring. “It’s kind of one of those things when you’re at the end of your career like I am, or was, you’ve got to hit the ground running if you want to stay in the game,” Jacobs said.
As his playing career wound down, Jacobs started paying more attention to strategic moves being made in games and picked the brains of managers he played for. “I knew for a long time that I was going to want to stay in the game somehow but still kind of be on the field,” Jacobs said.
After making connections and emailing teams, the Marlins interviewed their former first baseman for the Batavia job. “I’m extremely fortunate, extremely lucky to be able to jump right out of the game and then right back into it in a managing role,” Jacobs said.
The Mets drafted Jacobs, then a catcher, in the 38th round of the 1999 draft. He was on the 2001 Cyclones and had the walk-off sac fly in the first pro game in Brooklyn since 1957. “That was a really, really fun year to be a part of that team,” Jacobs said. “It’s definitely going to be fun going back in there.”
He should be able to reach the players as someone who played in the New York-Penn League. “I think just being able to wake up and go to the ballpark everyday as a young ballplayer is exciting,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs made it to the majors in 2005, now as a first baseman. In his first at-bat, Jacobs hit a three-run homer off Esteban Loaiza. Jacobs would go on a power surge, hitting 11 homers in 30 games. “It was definitely one of the highlights of my career,” Jacobs said. “To be able to just step in there and do what I did.”
The 2005 team had a mix of star veterans like Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez, and newcomers like David Wright and Jose Reyes. “Just being a rookie like I was sitting, in a corner, just observing but being able to go out and play well was really exciting,” Jacobs said. “It was something that you can’t really explain. It almost seems like it was a dream.”
Jacobs was sent to the Marlins in a trade that brought Carlos Delgado to Queens. Jacobs played three seasons in Florida and hit 32 home runs in the 2008 season. After playing for the Royals in 2009, he returned to the Mets in 2010. He only hit one homer but it was the 100th, and last, of his career. “That was a pretty cool thing that I was ably to hit my first as a Met and then my 100th as a Met,” Jacobs said. “That was a big one personally, to be able to say that I hit 100 homers as a big leaguer.”
Jacobs played with the Diamondbacks at the end of the 2012 season, his last action in the big leagues. Still staying in the game, Jacobs played in Mexico. “There’s a concept to going about your business down there,” Jacobs said. “You can’t be a guy that just comes in and thinks that you’re just gonna be a God down there and that have you.”
The quality of play is similar to the Triple-A level and more than that, Jacobs enjoyed the camaraderie. “One of the great things about it is whatever team you’re on, you guys are truly brothers,” Jacobs said. “You guys are there for each other, you guys definitely have each other’s backs. It’s like a family.”
Jacobs spent 18 seasons playing professionally, giving him enough experience to pass down and a bit of something he learned from different coaches along the way. “I think what I’m going to be good at is being able to take my experiences that I had throughout my career, I’ve been all over the place, I’ve been up, I’ve been down, I think just the experience I’ve had over my career, being able to apply that everyday to help teach younger players the ins and outs of the game, the understanding of the grind that it is, understanding that it’s work, understanding it takes time,” Jacobs said. “I think I’ll be an extremely patient manager. I really like the fact that, especially at the lower level, just the ability to touch younger players not just on the field but off the field, touch their minds and be able to turn them not just into baseball players but into good, young men as well.”