Darren Smale will be head clubhouse manager with Los Angeles Angels ‘AA’ baseball club
By Pat Payton
Darren Smale admits it’s been a “wild ride” the last year and a half.
The St. Marys Jr. ‘B’ Lincolns’ head trainer recently accepted the head clubhouse manager position with the newly-named Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball club, the ‘AA’ affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels.
The ‘AA’ team is located in Madison, Alabama and is in the midst of building a brand new, state-of-the-art facility with their home opener set for April 15. “The marketing team has and is doing a remarkable job spreading the brand,” he says.
Smale, 40, initially found out that the Angels were looking for a clubhouse manager for the team’s spring training facility. “I decided to throw my name in the ring and I sent them a resume,” Smale told the Independent. “Lo and behold, they reached out and told me they liked what they saw.”
Smale made it to the fourth round of interviews, to “the final few guys” after more than 300 people had applied for the position. The Angels proceeded to hire a man who has Major League experience. “The Angels called me and told me they were going to offer the job to this other guy, but they offered me the ‘AA’ job,” he explained.
Spring training in Arizona
Before heading to Alabama and the Trash Pandas’ inaugural season, Smale will attend the Angels’ spring training camp in Arizona. He leaves the first week of March. “I will start with the Angels, working with the big club, then the ‘AA’ players will come in the second week of March,” he said.
Smale outlined his duties as head clubhouse manager with the Trash Pandas.
“It’s no different than what I do here (with the Lincs),” he said. “I have to make sure the locker room is tidy, and obviously there is lots of laundry to do. I will also handle all the equipment needs down there.
“I have already reached out to manufacturers, like Rawlings, because we’ll use a lot of balls. A lot of the bat suppliers are getting ahold of me now, and telling what they’re going to send me for this guy and that guy. It’s just day-to-day operations of the clubhouse, keeping it presentable.”
When the Trash Pandas go on the road, Smale will return home to St. Marys.
“I won’t travel with the team,” he says. “Our schedule is actually very favourable, so it will give me the opportunity to come home. It will be nice to spend time with Junior (his 10-year-old son Maguire).”
Worked for the Argos last summer
Smale has spent the past two seasons as full-time trainer with the Lincs. However, over the past 18 months, he has also worked with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, the Kitchener Hallman Twins Senior fastball club, and London Majors of the Inter-County Baseball League (IBL).
Smale spent all of the 2019 season with the Argos, starting with training camp in May. “I signed a CFL contract with them to do home games. I was an equipment guy, and I was there on game days. I stayed after games, and made sure all the laundry was done.”
He also spent two years (2018 and 2019) with the Hallman Twins. He attended two World championship tournaments with the Twins, one in Green Bay, Wisconsin and the other in Kitchener. They finished third both years.
He also worked for the IBL’s London Senior baseball team before joining the Argos last summer.
Darren Smale is obviously very excited about his new opportunity in pro baseball.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” he said. “Anybody who knows me knows that I work hard and am pretty humble. I just do what I do, and give people the credit where it’s due.
“I’ve got a really good group of family and friends who are very supportive of me and my son. I’m just trying to stay humble and keep working hard and it’s getting me places.”
–Smale got his start with the Lincolns back in the 1999-2000 season, serving as assistant equipment manager. “That’s when I first dove into it,” he recalled.
–Smale will return to the Lincs next fall. “Since the new management has come in, the culture change here has been an eye-opener,” he says. “The (Lincolns) organization has really turned a page.”
–The Trash Pandas recently announced that former MLBer Jay Bell will be the first field manager in the team’s history. They open their inaugural season in Minor League Baseball’s Southern League on April 15.