WOODSTOCK – After setting a franchise record for losses, Woodstock River Bandits management wanted to find a head coach who could help turns things around – and they found him. Legendary Valley Baseball League head coach Mike Bocock will take the reins next season for the River Bandits.
Bocock has been a head coach in the VBL for 23 seasons and won a league-record seven VBL Championships with numerous teams.
“I’m excited to do this Woodstock job because I know a couple of things,” Bocock said at a news conference held at the field on Tuesday. “They want to win. They’re good people. They’ve got a great fan base and they want to win. And I want to give them that.”
Bocock replaces Greg Keaton, who managed the River Bandits last season, guiding them to a 5-37 record. Woodstock General Manager Porky Bowman said that Keaton decided at the end of June that he didn’t want to coach in the summer anymore.
Bowman said he’s excited to have Bocock as the River Bandits’ manager.
“I think after going through the season we went through last year, we needed to kind of take a long look at the organization – bringing Mike on board; he’s a proven winner,” Bowman said, adding “I think the people in Woodstock are going to be excited and pleased with the product that he’s going to put on the field.”
Bocock was elected into the VBL Hall of Fame in 2016, the first year of the Hall of Fame. He won VBL titles with New Market (1989), Staunton (1995, 1999), Luray (2006, 2008, 2010) and Waynesboro (2013). He has a career record of 535-388 in the regular season and 85-54 in the playoffs.
He also coached high school baseball at several schools, including Stonewall Jackson. Bocock said he stopped manging in the VBL in 2014 and felt like it was a good time to get back into it.
Bocock said that he recently went to a funeral of one of his classmates and something that was said in the eulogy had an effect on him and helped him make the decision to take the job.
“I can remember in the eulogy of them talking about you always should leave this life knowing that you did everything that you could do and did what you do best,” Bocock said. “It just kind of hit me and that convinced me. And then, when I (interviewed for the position), I knew driving away from here I knew this was the right thing for me.”
Bowman said there were plenty of applicants, but none had the credentials that Bocock had.
“If you don’t know Mike Bocock, you’ve heard a Mike Bocock story,” Bowman said. “He brings instant credibility to the organization.”
Gerald Harman will be the recruiting coordinator for the River Bandits. Harmon and Bocock have worked together before with other teams and Bocock said he’s looking forward to working with him again.
Bocock said one of his goals is to bring in more Division 1 players to the team.
“My recruiting’s going to be really important because I want to bring some really good people back to the Valley League. There are guys out there,” Bocock said. “I have a lot of Division 1 coaches that trust me and want their guys to play for me. I’ve always sent back really good players to them. So I think I’ll get that.”
Bocock is also the commissioner of the Rockingham County Baseball League and said he will stay in that position until January when they will elect a new commissioner.
Bocock wasn’t the only recent VBL hiring. The Strasburg Express announced last week that Brock Moss will be its head coach in 2019, replacing Anthony Goncalves.
Bocock said it takes more than just a coach to help a VBL team succeed and he said he’s looking forward to working with everyone in the community.
“This job is a job not for one person,” Bocock said. “A community wins championships. It’s everything from the host families all the way down to the concessions people. I’m dang excited for this. I can’t wait.”