10 QUESTIONS FOR CLINT
Ken Hoffman throws 10 questions to Houston's 'most successful baseball manager'
This article originally appeared on CultureMap.
Not to take anything away from Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch, but he's won how many World Series championships? One? That's so cute. (We kid, A.J.)
Meet Clint Sauls, the most successful baseball manager in Houston history. In 10 years as manager of the West University Seniors team (ages 15 to 16, the oldest division in Little League), Sauls has won eight state titles, six regional titles, and two World Series crowns.
And we're talking an actual global World Series, including eight international teams from places like Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Australia. West U is going for another title this week in Easley, South Carolina (Full disclosure: the first base coach for West U sleeps down the hall from me).
West U, representing the U.S. Southwest, won its opening round game on July 28, beating Wilmington, Delaware (representing U.S. East), 4-2. The team plays again 3 pm Tuesday, July 30, against undefeated Hawaii.
It's a hot ticket. Every game of the tournament is streaming live on ESPN Plus. The final game of the World Series, pitting the U.S. champs vs. the international winners, airs Saturday, August 3, on ESPN 2.
I caught up with Sauls as he was figuring out his pitching rotation for this week.
CultureMap: Why did you start coaching Little League?
Sauls: After graduating from Georgia Southern University, I got into coaching. I coached two years of high school ball as an assistant, and 2001-02 at Furman University, where I was the pitching coach and recruiting guy. I made $5,000 dollars and lived on a friend's couch.
That's when I realized I needed to make a better living, so I got into sales. I met my wife, and we came to Houston. I always missed coaching. I told her I wanted to make Houston our home and get involved in the community. What better way then Little League baseball?
CM: People may not know, but there are six different age divisions in Little League. Why did you pick the Seniors (ages 15-16) to coach?
CS: It was the most similar to the ages I had coached prior, and West U had a rule that no parents could coach after 12-year-old division. It made sense, and I love it.
CM: When you manage a team of 15- and 16-year-old boys, are you more a baseball strategist or child psychologist?
CS: Both, I think. We only get these kids for about two months so we don't ever mess with mechanical things like swings or pitching motions. It's all strategy and learning what to do in certain situation. The other part is child psychologist.
Kids at this age can still be very emotional. I try to get to know each personality and coach to that as best we can. No one gets special treatment. It just helps to know who each kid is and how to get the most out of them.
Continue on CultureMap to read about parents brawling in the stands at Little League games.