Generals tap Palmer as new field manager
Story by Chris Graham
Ronnie Palmer has built a winner in baseball at the community-college and now Division II college levels. It’s now Palmer’s task to rebuild the Waynesboro Generals after a season that saw the team miss the Valley League playoffs for the first time in three years.
“The history of the Valley League goes without saying with the players that you guys have had in this league. It’s certainly an honor to be a head coach in the league,” said Palmer, 34, the head coach at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W.Va., who was named the manager of the Generals on Sept. 29.
Palmer will work for his former college coach, Lawrence Nesselrodt, the director of baseball operations for the Generals and a former Waynesboro manager.
Palmer’s Senators improved from a nine-win season in 2008, his first year at the helm of the program, to 24 wins and an appearance in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament in 2009. His 2007 team at Salem (N.J.) Community College won a conference championship at the tail end of a four-year run that saw the team increase its win total each year.
Palmer is a Davis & Elkins alum, graduating from the school in 1999 after hitting a school-record 16 homers and driving in a school-record 45 runs as a senior.
“I’ve still got to learn about the game. No question about that. Every time I step out on the field, I try to learn as much as I possibly can, I’m looking for different avenues to grow. When you stop learning about the game, you might as well stop being involved with it,” Palmer said.
And Palmer looks forward to learning more about the game in Waynesboro and in the Valley League.
“When you get the opportunity to coach players from an LSU, a Mississippi State, a Vanderbilt, a WVU, it’s an honor, no question. But one thing I learned coaching in summer leagues is they all want to learn about the game, they all want to progress as players, regardless of who their coach is or who they’re around. Whether you’re from a big school or small school, you do things differently, and that could spark somebody and help them progress,” Palmer said.
“That’s what’s exciting about the game. Baseball sets itself apart from other games by whether a player is at a Division III school or a Division II school or JUCO, they could be just as good as that guy, they just might not have the opportunity to go there,” Palmer said.
Palmer had a whirlwind-type day in Waynesboro the day he was introduced as manager in September, meeting team and community leaders and getting a feel for the River City.
“The people I’ve met with the organization and outside the organization have been great. I think the organization is very passionate about what is going on in Waynesboro. I’m a small-town guy myself. Elkins is a similar setting. I think being in a small town is just nice,” Palmer said.
“What I hope to bring to the organization is just a passion about the game, and getting our players to understand that they’re not just here to play baseball. Waynesboro as a town has accepted them into their community, and some people are even going to open their homes to them. So they’ve got to give back to the community while they’re here as well. That’s just as important as them coming out here and playing every night,” Palmer said.