In Gary Redus’ pro baseball career, there have not been many times where he could sleep in his bed in Decatur the night before a game.
The Tanner native can do that this week. The 13-year pro player from 1982-1994 is a bench coach for the Montgomery Biscuits. The Biscuits are in Madison this week for a series through Sunday vs. the Rocket City Trash Pandas at Toyota Field.
The Redus ticket pass list for family and friends is up to 50 and growing.
“It’s going to be fun to see some family and friends at the game,” Redus said. “It’s going to be great after the game when I can get in my car and drive home.”
After Redus retired in 1994, he stayed away from the game other than a short stint as head coach at Calhoun. He and his wife Minnie were busy keeping up with their four kids: Lakesha, Manisha, Nakosha and son, Gary Jr. Then along came the grandchildren, which will soon be up to eight.
“Gee’s basketball career was over, and I was playing a lot of golf when I got a call from one of my best friends,” Redus said.
It was Skeeter Barnes, the minor league field coordinator for Tampa Bay. He offered Redus a job working in the Rays’ farm system.
“I wasn’t really interested,” Redus said. “The Huntsville Stars tried to get me to be the manager when they were around, but I didn’t want that.
“After Skeeter called, I started thinking about it more. Most of the teams in the league are close enough for me to drive and, when I get a chance, I could come home.”
This is Redus’ fourth season with the Biscuits. He’s the bench coach, works with the outfielders and coaches base running. The Biscuits are usually among the top base stealing teams in pro baseball.
“I’m having a lot of fun. The biggest thing is that I really feel like I’m teaching these kids,” Redus said. “I don’t want to say that I’m old school. I just want to teach them the right way to play baseball.
“By old school I mean playing hard, hitting the cutoff man, throwing to the right base and running hard every time. It’s really thinking about what you are doing and doing it the correct way. Most of the players are receptive to it.”
The message seems to be making an impact. Tampa Bay’s minor league system is always rated among the best. The Rays were in the World Series last year and are in the hunt to return to the playoffs this season.
In May the Biscuits honored Redus with a special fan give away. It was a T-shirt with “.462” and Redus’ autograph across the front. The .462 is Redus’ batting average in 1978 when he played for the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League. It’s the highest average of any player ever in professional baseball. Every member of the Biscuits wore the shirt during workouts before the game on May 13.
“A lot of the players didn’t understand what it was about,” Redus said. “When I told them I hit .462 that season, I don’t think they believed me. I told them to Google it.”
Redus had been drafted by the Reds in the 15th round out of Athens State. He hit .462 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs in 253 at bats for the Mustangs.
The 64-year-old Redus said that for a long time he was told his .462 was the second highest all-time average. Then five years ago the Baseball Hall of Fame contacted him.
“They said it was decided that my .462 was the all-time high,” Redus said. “I told them I still had a bat from that season. They asked if they could put it on display.”
Redus has not been to Cooperstown to visit his bat, but he’s had plenty of friends send messages with photos of the display.
“The way players swing for the home runs today, I don’t think that record will ever be broken,” Redus said.