High School Sports

Update (w/quotes): Pacelli hires former Central star Doc Brooks as new baseball coach

Former Central High and University of Georgia baseball star Doc Brooks wasn’t looking for a head coaching job, but the job found him nonetheless.

Pacelli athletic director Alan Griffin confirmed on Tuesday the hiring of Brooks as the school’s new baseball coach, replacing former coach Justin Newman.

Brooks said Tuesday evening that he was approached by Pacelli to gauge his interest in the job a few weeks ago, after which he went through the interview process over the course of the past three weeks. He was notified of his selection last Friday.

He 2008-11 as an assistant with the Red Devils program, but this is his first head coaching job.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I think it’ll be a great start for me as a head coach. I’m not a miracle worker, but I think I can give something back that I learned over my time in the places that I’ve been.”

Brooks, an outfielder during his career, is considered among the better players to ever come from the Bi-City area, playing three seasons with the Bulldogs during which he hit .284 with 45 home runs and 145 RBIs. His last two years at Central, he batted .446 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs.

He was subsequently drafted by the San Diego Padres in the seventh round of the 2001 Major League draft and split six minor league seasons between their organization and Colorado Rockies’ minor league affiliates.

His professional career ended in 2008 with the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern independent league, where he was coached by former New York Met Wally Backman.

Brooks isn’t sure when he will join Pacelli’s staff. That is something he said they are still discussing. As for his aims for the program, he said that he expects good things.

“I’ve heard they’ve got a good group of kids,” he said. “I’m going to teach them the basics, the small things that matter most. The game is already complicated, so the more you can simplify it, the better.”

He also said that passing along the respect for the game and the coaches will be a primary part of his program, something he has learned through struggles in his own career.

He spent a long time bouncing around the minors after high hopes of making it to the game’s highest level. He said he learned how to handle the mental aspects of the game.

“That’s the biggest part, being able to handle failure and tough situations,” he said. “It’s hard as a kid to handle tough situations. Going through it, I think I can teach them how.”

Brooks faced a 50-game suspension, handed out after he tested positive for a drug of abuse in 2007 after being released from the Rockies in his final stint in the minors.

Brooks said that was in the past, “a different life,” and wanted to leave it there. He said that it was a mistake that has made him a better person and coach now.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “That’s part of growing up. I am who I am because of my successes and failures.”

Brooks said that he had hoped to become a head coach down the line, but wasn’t necessarily expecting the opportunity to come so soon.

“It’s just something that came up, and it was a good opportunity to take,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it. I wasn’t necessarily expecting (a head coaching opportunity) right now. Later on down the road, yeah, but not now. But this is a good opportunity.”

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