New Sheriff in Town
First-Year Oklahoma City Dodgers Manager Travis Barbary’s Journey to OKC Includes Nightly Stops in Mayberry
For about one hour each evening, new Oklahoma City Dodgers manager Travis Barbary is transported back in time to the 1960s and to fictional Mayberry, North Carolina.
Barbary settles in with his wife Raquel to watch two episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” and see what antics develop that day with Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie, Aunt Bee and Deputy Barney Fife.
The classic sitcom originally aired from 1960–68 — long before Barbary was even born — but to say he is a fan seems like an understatement.
He owns a trivia game dedicated to the show, although he said no one ever wants to play him. That’s understandable given that he also possesses an honorary degree from fictional Mayberry University.
“I’m a huge Andy Griffith fan, like I think it’s the best show ever created for TV,” Barbary said. “There is always a good moral at the end.
“I actually think you can learn a lot from watching those shows, as crazy as that might sound to some people.”
Time will tell if any of those life lessons make their way into the clubhouse or dugout at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, as Barbary becomes the 33rd manager in Oklahoma City’s 58-year history as a Triple-A franchise. The Oklahoma City Dodgers and Los Angeles Dodgers made the announcement of the team’s 2019 field staff Wednesday.
The 2019 season will mark Barbary’s 25th in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. The 47-year-old from Easley, South Carolina, most recently worked as the Dodgers catching coordinator the last 12 seasons. Prior to that role, he managed Low-A Columbus (Ga.) from 2005–06 and Rookie-level Ogden from 2003–04.
He will take the field in Oklahoma City this season, along with returning pitching coach Bill Simas, new hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and new coach Jeremy Rodriguez.
Barbary is looking forward to returning to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on a more long-term basis this summer. He has made visits to Oklahoma City over the years to work with the team’s catchers in-season as part of his coordinator role.
“I really love the environment there,” Barbary said. “The fan support when I’ve been in there it’s been really, really good. I love the facilities. I love Bricktown. I’ve always enjoyed going in there and spending three or four days on my trips, so I’m looking forward to being there for the whole summer.”
Barbary originally left managing and accepted the coordinator job due to the age of his children at the time. The position allowed him more flexibility in schedule during the baseball season so he could regularly return home to see his family throughout the summer.
He hoped to return to managing once his four children were all in college and beyond, but the timeline moved up a bit when the Dodgers player development staff presented him with the chance to manage in Oklahoma City in 2019.
He discussed the opportunity with Raquel and they determined the timing was right for their family with their sons Chase, Colton, Cannon and daughter Carsyn Leigh now ranging in age from 14–21.
“It was just something that I thought about in the next couple of years I would like to do it again, and obviously when they ask you to do it in Triple-A, I felt like it was a pretty big honor,” Barbary said. “I’m really excited about the opportunity. It’s been awhile, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Having last managed in 2006, he said this season will include some adjustments. The inclusion of advanced technology in the game and the depth of player information available has increased dramatically, he said. Returning to the daily grind of going to the ballpark every day will also present a change of pace.
“The one thing I am looking forward to is just being with the guys for the course of a season,” Barbary said. “Not just coming in and out once a month and not really getting to know everybody that’s involved and what’s going on there. I’d just spend most of the time with the catchers and I’d get to know them really well as people and what makes them work, but I’m really kind of excited about getting to know the group of 25 guys.”
Barbary played college baseball with Spartanburg Methodist Junior College and the University of Virginia before the catcher played one season professionally with Rookie-level Great Falls in the Dodgers organization in 1994.
He then transitioned to coaching in the Dodgers farm system, serving as a hitting coach, and also spending four years (1998–2001) with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a bullpen catcher.
He enjoys hunting, especially deer in the fall near his offseason home in South Carolina. During the winter months he assists local professional players with training at nearby Clemson University. He cherishes spending as much time as he can with his family and attending his children’s activities.
Two of the 249 episodes created for “The Andy Griffith Show” also await each night.
He’s not really sure how he started watching the show. His parents did not tune in regularly. He just got hooked and hasn’t stopped watching.
In addition to airings on his local NBC affiliate and TV Land, the show is now available on Netflix — any time and any place.
“One thing I like to do as soon as I turn it on, without reading the info, (is determine) what that show is — like how quick I can figure out which episode I am getting ready to watch within the first two seconds of the show,” he said. “Of course my wife gets tired of me saying: ‘Oh, this is the one where…’
“I’ve probably seen them all four or five times.”
Rounding out the 2019 OKC Dodgers Field Staff
Manager Travis Barbary will be joined on the field by:
Bill Simas, Pitching Coach: Simas enters his second season with Oklahoma City, as well as his ninth as a pitching coach in the Dodgers organization. His previous coaching stops include the Double-A Tulsa Drillers (2016–17), High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (2015), Low-A Great Lakes Loons (2013–14) and Rookie-Level Ogden Raptors (2011–12). He played professionally for 16 seasons, including six years as a reliever for the Chicago White Sox from 1995–2000, making a total of 308 appearances.
Scott Coolbaugh, Hitting Coach: Coolbaugh spent the last four seasons as hitting coach for the Baltimore Orioles and enters his first year in the Dodgers organization. He previously spent eight years in the Texas Rangers organization and served as hitting coach in Oklahoma City with the RedHawks in 2009 and 2010. He played professionally for 13 seasons, including 167 games in Majors with the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. He played in 220 games for the Oklahoma City 89ers from 1989–90.
Jeremy Rodriguez, Coach: Rodriguez joins Oklahoma City for his fourth year in the Dodgers organization, and will serve as the team’s primary third base coach. He will also work with the team’s infielders and help install defensive positioning during games. He managed Rookie-Level Ogden in 2018, leading the Raptors to a Pioneer League-best 46–30 record, and Low-A Great Lakes in 2017. He played professionally for five seasons in the San Diego Padres organization.
Performance coach Tyler Norton returns for a second season and his seventh in the Dodgers organization. Athletic trainers Shawn McDermott and Vic Scarpone are joining the Dodgers organization for their first seasons.