Playing and coaching in the minor leagues comes with challenges that don’t exist at the major league level. Teams have limited resources to deal with problems across the minor leagues so they use roving coaches to help out their prospects. Brandon Magee sat down with Detroit Tigers Performance Enhancement Coach Brian Peterson for an interview.
Brian Peterson has had a varied career in baseball. As a pitcher, he faced off against Sam Horn in the New York-Penn League in 1982. He coached in junior college. He was a minor league pitching coach and hitting coach. He was an assistant to a general manager. He even scouted for a year. For the past sixteen seasons, Brian has utilized his expertise as a clinical counselor, first for the Florida Marlins and for the past thirteen seasons for the Detroit Tigers. I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Peterson as he was coming off the field at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Connecticut on August 28, prior to the New York-Penn League game between the Lowell Spinners and the Connecticut Tigers.
Q: So, What do you do here for the Tigers?
A: I’m the performance enhancement instructor. I’m a licensed clinical counselor. I provide psychological services for all of our players and staff for the whole system. I travel throughout the year to all of our teams.
Q: How long have you been with the Tigers?
A: This is my thirteenth year with Detroit.
Q: With Dave Dombrowski leaving and going to the Boston Red Sox and Al Avila taking over as general manager, has there been any instructions for you and do you expect any changes with your job?
A: There won’t be any changes with my particular job, however, they will have to evaluate everybody and see if they keep everything intact or not throughout the system. Hopefully, things will remain the same.
Q: With your trip up here, you are seeing some very youthful players, many just out of college. How do you approach these players who are adjusting to life without the same level of support they have had in college?
A: I don’t really tell them anything. They know what my job is and they know what it entails and they know I’m available. That’s what I do, I make myself available if they need me. That is what this league is for. They need to figure that stuff out. They have to learn as they go along as this is their first year out of college and junior college. That’s part of the whole learning process of the minor leagues – figuring out how to do things on a day-to-day basis when you are playing every single day.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
A: I went to the University of Oregon, and after my senior year, I tried out and played on an independent team in the Northwest League. When that season was over, I went back and finished my degree, a bachelor’s degree in sociology. I played a total of four years in the minors as a right-handed pitcher.
I then coached American Legion for six years, I coached in Junior College for three years and then I got into the pro game. I started with the Royals and while I was working with them, I went to graduate school and got a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of South Dakota.
Q: Having been involved in the professional game in a number of capacities and a number of years, what has changed over the years?
A: There is some difference just because in 30 years, family structure has changed. Thirty years ago, a lot of the players had both parents in their house for the majority of their time growing up. Of course, that has changed and that can affect some. For the most part, there is not a great deal of change. It remains pretty much the same.
We would like thank Brian Peterson for being so gracious with his time. We would also like to thank the Connecticut Tigers for their support and assistance.