‘Cat’ takes his ‘small ball’ into retirement
SHEPHERDSTOWN — From his high school days at Montevideo High in Virginia to his unrequited last season at Waynesboro High in Pennsylvania, baseball coach Greg Chandler was as much perpetual motion as he was strategist.
Always a man in motion and with energy spilling out of his uniform, Chandler was hard to miss when either playing center field for three Shepherd teams or coaching the Indians for 32 years in Waynesboro.
After imposing his considerable will on the football, basketball and baseball teams at Montevideo, Chandler spent one year at Eastern Mennonite in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He transferred his adrenaline to Shepherd and played for the baseball Rams in 1982, 1983 and 1984, receiving All-WVIAC honors in his last two seasons at ageless Fairfax Field.
Chandler spent a spring at Jefferson High as an energetic and loquacious baseball coach before being hired by Waynesboro High to be an assistant coach to long-time mentor Richard Hersh.
Beginning at Waynesboro as as a jayvee basketball and baseball coach as well as an assistant varsity football coach, he was in his mid-20s and already answering to his nickname of “Cat.”
Waynesboro had earned a reputation as a quality baseball school under Hersh’s guidance. That reputation would be enhanced after Chandler took charge and exerted his considerable will on his team’s games.
Waynesboro played “Catball.” Even in the power-happy times of aluminum bats, the Indians could scratch out runs with squeeze bunts, stolen bases, play for one run strategy, employing stingy pitching and out-hustling any team around the dynamic Blue Mountain League or Colonial Division of the Mid Penn I league.
In the latter years of the 1990s, Waynesboro was generally in the thick of the much-watched Pennsylvania state playoffs.
The Indians completed their regular seasons and waded into the early rounds of the state playoffs against high-caliber teams like Chambersburg, Red Land, Mechanicsville and Manheim Central.
All through the years, Chandler’s “small ball” teams were winning much more often than they were losing.
And there were a few 13-12 and 14-12 wins achieved with power and broadside attacks and not just hit-and-runs or double steals.
Waynesboro became a house hold name in 1996 when its pitcher, Matt White, became a first-round draft selection of San Francisco and was gifted with a multi-million bonus for signing his professional contract. White once pitched in a game televised on ESPN and watched by an estimated 1,000 people on Waynesboro’s home field.
Chandler made regular changes and updates to the field he inherited from Hersh. Grandstands, an outfield fence and classic dugouts made the layout worth a visit, just as much as the Indians’ winning ways.
By 1999, Chandler had been inducted into the Shepherd Athletic Hall of Fame.
Through the Chandler decades, the Indians were able to defeat a total of four USA TODAY, top 25 high school teams.
At the close of the 2019 season, after the Indians finished the season at 19-5, Chandler had a 476-207 career won-loss record. He announced the 2020 season would be his last. It would have been season number 33.
But it didn’t happened. Pennsylvania’s governor closed the public schools on April 9 and the season, projected to be another “cat ball” special, was summarily cancelled.
Energy. Non-stop attention to detail and close-to-the-vest games are now in the Waynesboro record annals.
Greg Chandler has retired, but his pep-filled presence will be long remembered when anybody hears the words “Waynesboro baseball” bandied about the diamonds in Pennsylvania.