Leadership can come from different places and at different times for different people. The leadership abilities that newly-minted Mets manager Mickey Callaway possesses, started at a young age through the influence of his father and continued throughout his life. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com chronicles Callaway’s journey here.
Mickey’s father Mike was a high-ranked civilian in the US Army Corps of Engineers. When Mickey was just a child, Mike would have him sit next to his baseball coaches in the dugout so he could learn directly from them.
At home Mike would teach Mickey about team building and group development through PowerPoint slides. Mickey wasn’t completely enthused by it all, but looking back, he realized the value it brought to him.
“I’m sure I was rolling my eyes as a teenager,” said Callaway according to DiComo. “But some of that sank in.”
While Mickey’s current leadership abilities started at a young age, they were and are continually being improved later in life.
When Callaway was the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians, he and manager Terry Francona met with Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan to discuss coaching philosophies.
Callaway also teamed up with Chip Engelland, the San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, to impart knowledge on the mechanics of baseball and basketball to a college student. The exercise was not only beneficial to the student, but also to each other as they critiqued each other’s methods.
His quest for improvement goes beyond even sports. Callaway has sought advice from Daniel Coyle who is a best-selling author of team-building books. He also got advice from Navy SEALs after visiting a Navy base.
Callaway views instances like these as a way to get better; even if it is just a small increase.
“Just doing things like that help make you 1 percent better every day,” Callaway said.
His interest in coaching began during his teenage years and blossomed in college. It didn’t become a reality until his playing career was halted due to a UCL tear in 2007.
Realizing his rehab process would take long, Callaway frantically looked for a college pitching coach job online and found one at Texas A&M International University.
He called the athletic director and immediately drove three hours to Nashville Tennessee where he met with the director and the school president.
Since the school’s last head coach suddenly resigned, they had a need and therefore Callaway got the job. Within three days Callaway was on the field coaching.
“It was crazy,” Callaway said. “It was a three-day process.”
That did not spell the end of his playing career though. Callaway gave it one more chance as he signed with the Laredo Broncos of Independent United League Baseball.
Once he blew out his shoulder towards the end of the season, he focused solely on his coaching career. He signed on with the Indians to be a coach after the season was over.
“Teams seek out guys with that path, that have had to grind and do things,” Callaway said. “Those guys make good coaches.”
Callaway proved he was a good coach by rising up the levels quickly. Within three years he was the major league team’s pitching coach. Now after five years as their pitching coach, he’s onto his next phase in life: Manager of the Mets.
All the information he has soaked up over the years has resulted in this new chance for the 42-year-old.
“I paid attention to what good coaches did. I paid attention to all my coaches and learned from their strengths and what I thought they did really well,” Callaway said. “That’s just kind of how I learned as a player, and I think it helped better prepare me to do a job like this.”