Richmond’s Machemer keeps racking up wins

Richmond’s Dave Machemer won his 1,595th game as a minor league manager Saturday night against the Curve, which says two things about him.

He’s been in the minor leagues a long, long, long time. And just as important, Machemer actually loves his lot in life of being a minor league stalwart, or else he wouldn’t have hung around as a manager since way back in 1985.

“The passion of the game of baseball,” Machemer said when asked what keeps him coming back year after year. “I grew up with the game of baseball in my blood, from my grandfather to my father to me, and since I was 4 years old and had a glove on and a bat and ball in my hands I’ve tried to live a dream. And I’m living that dream right now.”

Machemer turned 62 Friday, but he didn’t have a memorable birthday as the Curve crushed his club, 14-4. Saturday, the Flying Squirrels got their revenge with a 12-5 thumping of Altoona before 4,243 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Richmond belted four homers and cashed in on shaky Curve defense, including a throwing error to first base by pitcher Stolmy Pimentel (2-3) that led to a six-run fifth inning.

Richmond starter Jack Snodgrass (4-0) also committed a throwing error to first that led to two unearned runs, but that’s all he allowed in 6 innings as he lowered his ERA to 1.89.

Machemer, who recorded his 1,500th career win in Altoona in September of 2011, isn’t first on the victory list for active managers in the minor leagues, but he’s near the top. Dave Huppert, at Single-A Lakeland (Tigers) this season, holds the top spot with 1,763 wins in organized minor league ball.

It’s unclear exactly what place Machemer is in on the active list since that record is not kept in the minor leagues. But for comparison’s sake, Machemer’s win total isn’t that far behind the MLB active leader, Detroit’s Jim Leyland, who has 1,703 wins.

“When I started in ’85, I didn’t know how long I was going to do it,” Machemer said. “I knew I loved the game.”

He also loves the Eastern League, having spent much of this century in the circuit with Bowie (2001), Harrisburg (2003-04), Norwich (2005), Connecticut (2006-07) and Richmond (2011-13).

“Mac is not our manager, he is family, like my much, much older brother,” said former Curve GM Todd Parnell, Richmond’s vice president and chief operating officer. “Like all of us, he has fun in everything he does. He is amazing to watch every day.

“After all these years, he’s still genuinely excited to come to the park every day. He understands he needs to develop players, but he still wants to win every day. He cares about the players and takes a lot of pride in their success. He is an absolute joy to work with, and I love him very much. He is a classic. Which just doesn’t mean he is old.”

Machemer had equally nice things to say about Parnell – “He’s one of the best in the game of baseball. I love that man,” he said – plus the longtime manager mentioned how impressed he is with Altoona and the Curve franchise.

“Altoona’s a great city,” he said. “Rob Egan does a great job here with their staff. He’s one of the GMs that really has a passion for the game. He comes down, he talks to us, and I appreciate that. I appreciate the people that love what they do on a daily basis, and he’s one of those guys. And you can see it in the way his staff performs on a daily basis and the way the people come out and enjoy the game of baseball.”

Machemer has won 70 of his 1,595 games against the Curve, although he’s lost 82. He came to town in pain this weekend after taking a line drive off his left knee coaching third base Thursday against Trenton.

“I took a shot, and it kind of woke me back up again,” said Machemer, who’s walking with a slight limp. “It gave me a new purpose to make sure I’m a little more on my toes down there.”

Machemer played 29 games in the majors from 1978-79 and homered in his first MLB at-bat. He still has aspirations of getting to the big leagues as a coach, but for now he said there’s nowhere he’d rather be than managing Richmond.

“It tells me he’s a guy who’s relentless in his work, a guy who is a student and enjoys being in the game,” Curve manager Carlos Garcia said of Machemer’s long minor league tenure. “For somebody to be able to manage for so long, you have to have a lot of passion and a lot of love for what you do.”

Garcia had his night cut short Saturday as he was ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning for arguing a called third strike on Andrew Lambo.

“I don’t argue balls and strikes for the most part, but that pitch was ridiculous,” Garcia said. “[A] 3-2 count and that was up and in. It was so obvious that it was not even close to the plate.”

Game recap

Key player: Richmond RF Jarrett Parker hit two homers and drove in three.

Key play: Curve RHP Stolmy Pimentel committed a throwing error to first base that helped Richmond score six times in the fifth inning.

Key stat: Pimentel allowed eight runs, four earned because of his error.

How they scored

Bottom 1st: Ngoepe singled, Lambo walked, bot scored on Snodgrass error (2-0).

Top 3rd: Snodgrass singled, scored on Parker two-run homer (2-2).

Top 5th: Parker solo homer (2-3); Panik walked, scored on Minicozzi double (2-4); Pimentel error scored Minicozzi (2-5) and allowed Wagner to reach; Lollis reached on Cutler error, scored on Relaford single (2-6); Snodgrass double scored Wagner and Relaford (2-8).

Top 6th: Herrera solo homer (2-9); Minicozzi singled, Lollis singled, both scored on Susac three-run homer (2-12).

Bottom 8th: Rojas Jr. tripled, scored on Lambo groundout (3-12); Santos walked, scored on Howard groundout (4-12).

Bottom 9th: Brown singled, scored on Ngoepe double (5-12).