Great Falls, MT-In nearly 30 years as a college and professional baseball coach, one could surmise Tim Esmay has pretty much seen it all. The Scottsdale, Arizona native, however, will mark his third season in the White Sox farm system with his first-ever trip to the Electric City.
Tim Esmay makes his managerial debut for the Voyagers later this month when the 2017 Pioneer League season begins for Great Falls in Helena. Esmay served as a coach on the triple-A Charlotte staff last year and was the manager of high-A Winston-Salem in 2015. Before joining the pro ranks, Esmay spent the better part of 26 years as either a head coach or an assistant on the college level. The former Arizona State head coach believes "you have a chance every year to learn something new in this game." Esmay adds, he's been "very lucky to have coached as long as I have. Each new season, you have the opportunity to develop more knowledge. No matter what level, I believe the development of the players is the absolute main priority, but the commitment to winning helps to foster that development."
Certainly no stranger to winning, Esmay hopes to keep Great Falls near the top of the league standings again this season. The Voyagers went 47-28 in 2016 to finish with the league's best overall record. It was the ninth playoff appearance in the last 10 seasons. Esmay states, "I'm looking forward to managing in Great Falls. I have heard nothing but great things about the Voyagers and the Pioneer League. While I've not been to Great Falls, I have been to some of the other stops in the league from my days as the head coach at the University of Utah."
Tim Esmay guided the Winston-Salem Dash to a Carolina League playoff berth back in 2015. After a meager start to the season, the Dash responded with a strong second-half and finished 75-63 in Esmay's first coaching stint in the minors. After making the transition from being a longtime college coach, Esmay remembers, "the biggest difference was getting used to playing every day and all the little things that go with that. Managing days off, keeping the bullpen fresh, and long road trips on the bus. But, the game itself was the same."
The 52-year-old Esmay dove head-first into coaching following his playing days at Arizona State. He's a graduate of Horizon High School, where his number five was retired in 1998. Prior to being a Sun Devil, Esmay played two years of junior college ball at Scottsdale Community College and was an All-American. In two seasons as a starter at ASU, he hit .305 with 23 doubles and five home runs. Esmay played on the 1987 College World Series team and was selected All-West Region that season.
Esmay has been an assistant coach at Arizona State, Grand Canyon, and Utah. As the head coach at Utah, he was selected Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 1997 after guiding the Utes to a league title. Esmay then returned to Arizona State as an assistant before being named the head coach at his alma mater in 2010. His first of five seasons at ASU resulted in a 52-10 record and a #1 ranking going into the College World Series. Esmay was rewarded as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. As a player and a coach, Esmay has been a member of seven teams that appeared in the CWS in Omaha.
Esmay says, "being named the head coach at ASU was a very special honor. But, I've always had pro ball on my list of coaching goals. It's the highest level of baseball and I've wanted to be a part of the best of the best." While racking up many years of service to the game, Esmay has had countless guys move on to play professionally. In college, he mentored the likes of Jason Kipnis, Mike Leake, and Deven Marrero. Esmay also coached with the 2013 USA National Collegiate team that included Kyle Schwarber, Alex Bregman, and Michael Conforto. Since joining the White Sox organization, he's worked with former Voyagers Adam Engel, Kevan Smith, and Chris Beck.
From a coaching standpoint, Esmay says he continues to grow with every new season. In Great Falls, he wants to "help the players navigate their first season of pro ball. Charlotte was a great experience for me last year. Seeing those guys prepare every day was amazing. They had big league time or were about ready to reach the big leagues. That will only help me to give information to the guys in Great Falls as to what it takes to have a chance to play in the bigs."
The 2017 season for the Voyagers starts on the road at Helena June 19th. The team's home opener is scheduled for June 21st at Centene Stadium, also against Helena. For the entire Great Falls schedule, ticketing information, or news on other Voyagers related events, visit www.gfvoyagers.com or call 406.452.5311.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.