Strasburg Express names new manager

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STRASBURG — It’s been a month of new jobs for Ben Moore.

Late last month, Moore started his new job as an assistant baseball coach at Randolph-Macon College. On Wednesday, Moore was announced as the new manager of the Strasburg Express, at an event held at the Hotel Strasburg.

“I’ve been real lucky lately,” Moore said. “I got the Randolph-Macon job and eight days into it I got a Valley League head coaching job. It’s unheard of. I’m very, very lucky.”

Moore has a strong background in baseball. He played at North Carolina Wesleyan, where he graduated in 2009. Moore was the USA South Rookie of the Year in 2006. The pitcher was an American Baseball Coaches Association All-South Region selection in 2008 and 2009. He was also a North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association all-state selection twice, and he was a USA South Tournament MVP.

Moore said he has been mentored since he was 8 by Johnny Narron, who is the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I’ve really enjoyed learning from him,” Moore said of Narron.

As a coach, Moore is an instructor at the Richmond Baseball Academy, and he has coached in the Coastal Plains League for two years.

Moore said he has always heard great things about the Valley League, and wanted to coach there.

“The people that I had asked around before about the Valley League said ‘Strasburg, Strasburg, Strasburg,'” Moore said. “It was a no-brainer. This was the first place I reached out to and it’s really worked out for me.”

Moore said a big reason he wanted to come here was his relationship with Parker Neal, the Director of Player Personnel for the Express. The two played against each other when Neal and his older brother, Matt, were playing at Christopher Newport University.

Moore will be taking over for Butch Barnes, who stepped down after last season. Barnes led the Express to their best season last summer as the team advanced all the way to the championship series, where they lost in three games to Waynesboro.

Barnes will now be the vice president of baseball operations, and Moore said he’s excited to learn from Barnes.

Moore should also fit in well with the small-town atmosphere in Strasburg. Moore said his hometown of Four Oaks, N.C. is even smaller than Strasburg.

Moore will also be very familiar with one of the other coaches in the league next summer — New Market manager C.J. Rhodes is also an assistant coach at Randolph-Macon. R-MC head coach Ray Hedrick is also a former New Market manager.

“They’ve told me about the friendly Shenandoah County rivalry between New Market, Woodstock and Strasburg,” Moore said. “They said you better not lose to New Market and you better not lose to Woodstock. C.J. [Rhodes] said well we swept you last year and I said it’s not happening. So we’ve already started picking on each other. It will be fun. I think it will make it more of a fun rivalry with C.J.”

Moore said he will do what it takes on the field to help his team win next season.

“I like to put pressure on any team that we play,” Moore said. “I’m a drag-bunt, hit-and-run, steal — anything I can do to put pressure on a team I’ll do it. I’m a competitor. I hate losing more than I like winning.”

Express General Manager Jay Neal said that he believes Moore is a perfect fit for the job.

“Ben simply blew us away,” Jay Neal said. “He’s a nice guy. He knows his baseball. His philosophy in handling players is what we were looking for.

“We just felt the best thing for the Express was Ben Moore. We thought he’d do a wonderful job. We thought he’d be great fit for the community and he will be. He will do an absolute phenomenal job.”

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd