JOHNSON CITY — It’s been 20 years since Jeff Reed played in the major leagues.
The longtime catcher spent 17 seasons behind the plate for the Minnesota Twins, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs. He was part of the Reds team that won the 1990 World Series.
Reed has continued his lifelong love affair with baseball, spending the two decades since he turned in his shin guards as a coach.
These days, Reed is the baseball coach at Providence Academy and serves as coach of the Appalachian League’s Elizabethton Twins.
Of course, all baseball — professional and amateur — is shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, so Reed isn’t doing any coaching for the time being.
“This is something that we’ve never had to deal with before,” Reed said. “But hopefully it’ll make us stronger whenever we come out of it.”
With more time on his hands than usual, Reed took time to answer some questions about the current situation and his coaching and playing careers.
I am sure you’re missing being out there coaching, but how tough would this have been when you were playing?
“No doubt it would have been harder. As a player, you’ve been training all winter, ramping up. You’re down in camp for a while and the season’s right there. You’re really looking forward to getting out of spring and playing the games when they really count. And then you get shut down. It has to be tough for everybody. It’s not quite as tough on us because we were still a few months away from beginning our season. To be right there and have the door shut, it’s got to be hard.”
How have you enjoyed coaching at Providence Academy?
“I love it. This is my second year there. My first year we only had 11 guys try out. This year we had 16. Next year it’s looking like we’re going to have about 20 guys try out. Lance, my son, is the middle school coach and he takes care of the field. We just got a new athletic director, George Pitts. I’m excited to work with him. I think the program’s moving in the right direction. I can’t be more excited.”
You should be coaching those high school kids now. What was it like to have to tell them their season had come to a premature end?
“We played a practice game and two regular-season games. We were 1-1. Then I had to make the announcement that we were done. That really is tough. I had two seniors on the team. I talked with them over the phone. They’re both down. It’s your last year and you work hard. They want to play. It’s really sad. They’re both going to UT, real smart kids. They will do well. But they can never get their last year back.”
Sometime this summer you will be, hopefully, beginning your 18th year as a coach with the Elizabethton Twins. How strange does all the uncertainty of the upcoming season feel?
“We just hope we play. That’s all that you can do. But if they don’t do the draft until late, I don’t know what that says about our league. We need to play. Those minor league players already in your system, they need to work and go play. I hear it’s even tough to find a place to go throw. All the weight-lifting places are closed, too. You really have to sort of get outside the box just to be able to train.”
How often do you wear your World Series ring?
“When I go to church I do or when I go to a banquet or something like that where I have to get dressed up a little bit. I don’t wear it at the ballpark or anything like that. That ring is special, no doubt.”
What have you been doing with no baseball to coach?
“My yard looks like a ballfield. It looks good. Now I’m running out of things to do.”