Guy Elston has a lot of very busy days once the high school baseball season begins.
Eastwood’s volunteer pitching coach works at The Andersons in Maumee from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., then hustles to the baseball field by 2:45. After practice, he often heads over to work odd jobs at Hidden Hills Golf Club in Woodville.
“I enjoy golfing,” Elston said, “so I hang around the golf course a little bit. I’m not a fanatic, where I keep track of my handicap.”
Former Eastwood baseball coach Chopper Schmeltz brought Elston on board seven or eight years ago to serve as a volunteer coach and help with the pitching staff. Since then, he’s been on the Eagles’ staff all but one season. Elston had never coached at the high school level before, but he had a pretty impressive resume.
|Eastwood assistant baseball coach Guy Elston. (Press
photo by John Pollock/www.smumug.pollock.com)
“Chopper knew I had played minor league ball,” said Elston, 53, “He asked me (to coach) one time after a basketball game, in the fall, and I said, ‘yeah. I’ll do it.’ ”
Elston and current Eastwood varsity coach Kevin Leady, a former standout pitcher with the Eagles (2002-05) and at Bowling Green State University, was smart enough to keep Elston on the staff when he was hired two years ago.
Elston serves as a junior varsity assistant coach and works primarily with that squad’s pitching staff; Leady concentrates on coaching the varsity staff.
“He does a good job and he gives the kids a lot of great insight,” Leady said. “He really knows what he’s talking about pitching-wise. The more people you can have, the better. Our team ERA is pretty good this year. We can credit the amount of time we spend on that aspect (of the game). He’s a great guy, very knowledgable about the game. He has a huge desire to work with the kids.”
Elston, a native of Addison, Mich., who now lives in Stony Ridge, was an all-county pitcher at Addison High School in the mid-1970s. He pitched for two years at Jackson (Mich.) Community College and also played Federation ball in Toledo. One of his Federation teammates was an assistant at the University of Toledo, and Elston played his last two years of college ball under UT coach Stan Sanders.
Elston, then a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-hander, was working at Michigan International Speedway in the summer when he got a call from Sanders.
“He said, ‘Hey, I have somebody I know and they need you in Paintsville, Ky.,’ ” Elston recalled. “The Yankees had a rookie-ball team there. They played 60 games and consisted of mainly college kids.”
Elston showed up and was asked to pitch an intrasquad game with the Paintsville squad and did “alright.”
“I took it as a tryout for the team,” he said. “By the end of the season I was 9-0 with 11 saves, strictly as a reliever.”
The next year Elston was sent to pitch in Greensboro, N.C., for spring ball. He had one “outstanding” month and was called up to Nashville, where he finished the season.
“I spent the last three months living in a hotel room in Nashville,” Elston said. “I lived out of a suitcase.”
The following season Elston was moved up to pitch for the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees’ Triple-A minor league team.
Elston said he had a decent season with the Clippers, but he tore a muscle in his inner elbow about halfway through the season and went on the 15-day disabled list.
“The following year my shoulder started hurting,” he said. “I don’t know if I started throwing different because of my elbow. The bursa sac would become so inflamed that I could only throw every five to six days, which is bad for a reliever. They couldn’t rely on me to throw. I was taking two or three aspirin before every game, but it still didn’t help.”
Elston was traded to Cleveland’s minor league system the following year, and that’s when his pitching arm really became sore.
“My arm never was right after that,” he said. “I pitched two years in (Double-A) Waterbury, Conn., for half a season, then they called me up to the (Triple-A) Maine Guides. I was in Maine the following year and they even made me a starter, thinking that would help. I was so sore, I couldn’t really come back after five days. I wore my arm out.
“I just didn’t really have any strength in my arm. It was disappointing, because I moved up so fast and never had a sore arm. After two years of having a sore arm, Cleveland was going to send me back down to Double-A and I said there was no way I can even throw. So I came back home and saw a doctor and they shot that dye in my shoulder. He said it was just my bursa sac in my shoulder. I knew I couldn’t throw.”
It was 1985, and Elston was already 26 years old. He never pitched again.
“I always think, ‘I could have been,’ ” Elston said. “It was fun while it lasted. The year I hurt my arm with the Yankees, in 1983, they invited me to their big-league camp for spring training. Then they traded me to Cleveland and I went to minor league spring training.”
Elston, who threw a low-90s fastball, curball and slider, credited his father, Jim, for helping him get to the doorstep of the major leagues.
“When me and my brother (Greg) were kids, my dad would catch for us every day out in the driveway,” Elston said. “That’s what really helped me. He still has the same garage door and there’s still the same ball dings in it. He was also my coach for most of my years in Little League.”
Elston said he’s having a ball helping with Eastwood’s pitching staff.
“I enjoy going to the field every day, working with the kids and watching them grow,” he said. “Next year they’ll be up on the varsity and I’ll get to see how they do on the varsity.”
Eastwood assistant baseball coach Guy Elston. (Press photo by John Pollock/www.smumug.pollock.com)