CornBelters' Lanier still teaching at 69

2011-07-30T00:15:00Z CornBelters' Lanier still teaching at 69BY TODD HEFFERMAN, THE SOUTHERN The Southern
July 30, 2011 12:15 am  • 

MARION - Hal Lanier put the stat sheet down long enough Wednesday to explain why, at 69 years old, he's still interested in coaching young people.

After all, independent baseball has long been about more than numbers to Lanier, a former major league coach with the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros.

"I enjoy the game. My mind is still active. I like working with the young kids," Lanier said. "I like trying to get players that were not drafted, or never got an opportunity, to play organizational ball. I'm very proud of that. Not only during the season, but in the offseason and during spring training, because I live in Florida.

"I go around all the minor league camps, and meet all the minor league player directors, the ones that I don't know, so I still have some contacts there. This is my 16th year in independent baseball. We've gotten, probably, I'd have to say over 150 players back with organizations, five of them at the major league level. I'm very proud of that."

Lanier was hired as the Normal CornBelters' first manager after two years with the Sussex (N.J.) Skyhawks of the Can-Am League. With more than 21 years coaching major, minor and independent league squads, the Denton, N.C. native came to Normal with a big name.

He was the third base coach for the Cardinals in 1982, when they won the World Series in seven games over the Milwaukee Brewers, and was named National League Manager of the Year in 1986 after leading the Astros to a 96-66 record. It was Houston's best record to that point.

Houston won the National League West by 10 games, but lost to the eventual World Series champion New York Mets in a six-game National League Championship Series.

Lanier is still close to former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, he said, and got to re-connect with former players Andy Van Slyke and John Tudor at a Cubs-Cardinals legends softball game last year.

To try to start Normal's franchise off on the right foot, he brought two guys with him who knew him well: Brooks Carey and Nick Belmonte. Carey, the CornBelters' pitching coach, was on Lanier's 2008 Sussex squad that won the Can-Am League title and has worked with him for the last four years. Belmonte, Normal's director of player procurement, and Lanier go back even further, 16 years.

When they're not around each other during the season, they occasionally run into each other in the offseason. Lanier, who lives in St. Cloud, Fla., near Kissimmee, visits a lot of the major league and minor league camps in the winter. Brooks lives in the Tampa area, and Belmonte does TV and radio spots for the University of Florida when he's not working for Normal.

Still having the ability to play golf in the winter, Lanier said he has the best of both worlds. He has been able to avoid major health problems, and still takes the top stair in the dugout, standing most of the game. In the offseason, when he's not golfing, he is with his wife of 11 years, Pam, and catching up with his two daughters.

"I've been very fortunate to stay in the game this long," Lanier said. "The good Lord has taken care of me, health-wise, knock on wood. I still enjoy it. When I stop enjoying it, you know, a lot of people ask me when I'm going to retire, and I'm not ready to do that. I can play golf all winter. I guess I got the best of both lives."

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @Todd_Hefferman

 

Copyright 2015 The Southern. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Miners strand seven in 3-1 loss to Schaumburg

Miners strand seven in 3-1 loss to Schaumburg

MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners got at least one baserunner in seven different innings on Tuesday night, but weren't able to pierce Sch…

20 hours ago Photos

Photos

(0)

Miners to retire Ryan Bird's number

MARION — The Southern Illinois Miners will retire Ryan Bird's No. 13 in ceremonies prior to the June 27 contest with the Washington Wild Things.

June 02, 2015 1:00 am(0)
Miners sweep doubleheader - and series - from Slammers

Miners sweep doubleheader - and series - from Slammers

MARION — The Southern Illinois Miners completed a three-game weekend sweep of Joliet Sunday, rolling past the Slammers, 7-4, in Game 2 of a do…

May 31, 2015 9:10 pm Photos

Photos

Related (0)

Miners, Slammers postponed, doubleheader today

MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners' game against Joliet on Saturday night was postponed due to rain.

May 30, 2015 8:38 pm(0)

Rankin's scoreless inning streak ends, but Miners hold on for 3-2 win

MARION -- Two scoreless-inning streaks ended for the Southern Illinois Miners' pitching staff on Friday night, but the important one kept goin…

May 29, 2015 10:09 pm(0)
Miners' Lopez proved himself as a fifth-year senior at VMI

Miners' Lopez proved himself as a fifth-year senior at VMI

MARION -- Less than a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Southern Illinois Miners pitcher Adam Lopez bet on himself in 2012.

May 28, 2015 9:17 pm Photos

Photos

Related (0)

Miners' comeback falls short against Rockford, 5-4

MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners got the tying run in scoring position in each of the last two innings, but came up short for the third …

May 24, 2015 8:39 pm Related (0)

Miners blanked by Rockford

MARION — The Southern Illinois Miners were unable to push a run across home plate against Rockford pitchers for the second straight night, fal…

May 23, 2015 9:48 pm(0)

Rockford ends Miners' winning streak, 2-0

MARION -- Tanner Witt drove in all the runs Rockford needed in the third to end the Southern Illinois Miners' three-game winning streak on Fri…

May 22, 2015 10:10 pm(0)
Photos: Miners vs Rascals

Photos: Miners vs Rascals

The Frontier League Southern Illinois Miners defeated the River City Rascals 7-1 Thursday at Rent One Park. 

May 22, 2015 6:24 pm Photos

Photos

(0)
Follow the Southern Illinoisan
Sporting Events
Sign Up for Email Alerts

Receive news and emergency updates as soon as the stories unfold. (View Sample)

Our daily top stories delivered to your inbox at five o'clock each morning. (View Sample)

Get the afternoon's top stories delivered to you daily. (View Sample)

Be among the first to hear of our local deals! More than half off from local merchants.

We love our readers! Sign up so you're among the first to hear first-hand about our giveaways, special contests, and events.

Miners

SPORTS EXTRA

2012-13 Prep Basketball Preview

2012-13 Prep Basketball Preview

Small Schools, Big Expectations

Pinboard