Baseball executives tend to take notice when coaches work for winning teams. And that's exactly what was happening to Rene Lachemann. The more the Athletics won, the more notice he was garnering for managerial openings.
While most successful coaches would be offered managerial openings for underperforming teams, that wouldn't be the case for Lachemann. Instead, the baseball-lifer would be offered a chance to mold a team from scratch. He would leave his great Athletics team to try his hand at managing again, this time for the expansion Florida Marlins.
"I was not wanting to leave," Lachemann admitted. "Tony pushed me. So I said, 'I'll try again.'"
The move allowed Lachemann to reunite with his older brother Marcel, who he brought aboard to be his pitching coach. With a 5-year plan in place, he embarked on the difficult task of starting a team from scratch.
The team did enjoy relative success for an expansion team as they inched closer toward realizing their 5-year plan. Lachemann's achievements with the organization were being noticed by his peers. Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox even sent him a message during the 1996 season that Lachemann still haves to this day.
"He told me, 'Congratulations Lach, you're doing a great job.' A week later I got fired," Lachemann explained.
Ironically, it was the Colorado Rockies that played an indirect role in his dismissal midway through the 1996 season.
"We did well until the Rockies upset the boat in 1995 and won the Wild Card. The (Marlins management) said, 'Why aren't we winning?' If Colorado didn't win, Florida might have stayed with their 5-year plan," Lachemann said. "They were good to me, though. After they won the World Series in 1997, Jimmy Leyland thanked me for putting together the foundation."
With another chapter closed in his life, Lachemann looked to a familiar face, joining Tony LaRusa's coaching staff in St. Louis before the 1997 season. It was there that he was also reunited with one of his former players, first baseman Mark McGwire who was traded to the Cardinals at the trade deadline that summer. McGwire would go on to bring baseball back to the forefront of the American culture in 1998 when he went toe-to-toe with Sammy Sosa in a race to break Roger Maris' home run record.
"I don't care what people say, those two saved baseball," Lachemann said.
Two years later, Lachemann had a chance to see the other player in that home run race, joining Don Baylor's staff in Chicago prior to the 2000 season. A friend of Baylor from his time in Boston, Lachemann caught on with the Cubs because he was hoping to coach for a team that trained near his home in Arizona.
"The Cardinals gave me two weeks to find a new place. It didn't look like it was going to happen. But anyone who has ever worked for baseball should work for the Cubs. That's what baseball is all about," he said.
In his time since coaching with the Cubs, he has returned to both the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics as a coach. Now at the age of 62, after spending the past 28 consecutive seasons in the Major Leagues, Lachemann returns to Minor League Baseball with plenty of things left to accomplish.
"We'll see what I can contribute to what is hopefully a championship season in Colorado Springs, he said.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.