By Brian Eller -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- For John Lowery Jr., his proudest moment as manager of the Winchester Royals wasn't when his team was on top of the Valley Baseball League. In fact, it was when his Royals weren't even playing .500 ball.
"I think my proudest moment was being 10-15 this summer and trying to hold everyone together," Lowery said. "Then we won 11 games in a row to get back in the playoff hunt."
It was a special moment for the manager. And after resigning from the Royals last week in order to spend more time with his family, that time with his team is just one of several memories the former coach will take with him.
"It's definitely a decision I did not take lightly," Lowery said. "It was made with mixed decisions. There were so many positives to coaching in the Valley League and my family truly enjoyed the time. But the negative was just all the time you put in, and I just want to be able to spend a little more time with my three children and wife."
Lowery became manager of the Royals back in 2007, and was the 16th manager in franchise history. This season the Royals accumulated a 25-23 record, finishing third in the Valley League's North Division. But while his managerial stint with the Royals began just three seasons ago, Lowery has been a part of the Royals organization since childhood. As a child he spent time as the Royals' bat boy, while his father, John Lowery Sr., coached the team. In 1991, the younger Lowery played for the Royals, finally becoming the team's newest manager in 2007.
And while the decision to step down for Lowery means spending more time with his family, incoming general manager Brian Burke points out a touch of irony in Lowery's notion to resign.
"He's leaving the job to spend more time with his family, and leaving the Royals family in the process," Burke said. "We'll miss him, I'm sure, as much as he missed his family while he was coaching."
Though his days coaching sometimes meant extended time away from his wife and children, Lowery wouldn't have the family he has today without his time with the Royals.
"We all grew up with the ballpark there," Lowery said, "and my wife has spent a lot of time there ... we met at the fields. And we've spent the last three summers there, especially with my dad last summer and they were all special times, both with my family and people within the Royals organization."
Lowery's departure leaves the door open for the Royals to select a new manager. Burke said the decision will be made by a search committee composed of three members, including Burke, and currently have three candidates interested in the position. One of the interested parties is Lowery's father.
Burke said the board is planning on conducting an interview with Lowery Sr. soon, and said Jim Phillips, also a member of the committee, will likely be out of town from September 3-8, which may delay the search .
The younger Lowery did say that while he's going to take the next year to be closer with his family, he would be open to coaching again in the future. As for now, however, he is content with his time spent with the Royals organization, and the time ahead that'll be spent with his wife and children.