American Legion Cubs name Andy Bartlome as next head baseball coach

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, November 16, 2022


Heading into the cold dark depths of baseball’s winter hibernation, the Dillon Cubs made a big move to position themselves for a brighter summer of 2023, when they’ll play a unique and challenging American Legion baseball season—and be doing it under a new head coach.

“We wanted someone who could keep the momentum of the program going,” said Dillon Cubs Board President Justin Fox of the board’s recent decision to elevate Andy “Big Tyme” Bartlome to the position of Cubs head coach.

“I found out after the last Cubs board meeting,” Bartlome told the Dillon Tribune of how news of his promotion came to him.

“I knew that Zach McRae had resigned,” said the owner of Big Tyme Sportswear & Design in downtown Dillon of the recent resignation of the Cubs head coach from last season to take the same position with the fledgling Beaverhead County High School baseball program.

“I had gone into the Cubs board meeting to talk about how things went last season and what I saw coming for the future of the program,” recalled Bartlome, an assistant coach with the Cubs last season.

“And it kind of turned into a job interview.” A job interview Big Tyme apparently aced, big time, leading to him gaining a quick offer to take over as Cubs skipper.

“We wanted someone who knew the players and the parents and the program well,” said Fox of the hiring of Bartlome, who had served as an assistant coach under two previous Cubs managers—Aaron Orme and Randy Shipman, as well as under McRae.

“A lot of the younger kids getting ready to step up to the Cubs have played for him already,” noted Fox of Bartlome, who has in recent years also coached local travel teams as well as trained his son Andrew, a breakout rookie for the Cubs last season.

The move represents a sort of double change that, like a double substitution in baseball, should bolster local baseball at two different positions at a critical time.

“There was concern over how the high school baseball program starting might affect the Cubs. But we are all working for the same things,” insists Bartlome.

“Zach will be the baseball coach at high school,” noted Bartlome of McRae’s role in leading a new Dillon Beavers program that will help McRae remain a big, positive influence in developing and protecting young local talent also likely to play for the Cubs.

“Zach resigned from the Cubs so it would be easier to focus on high school program. We thank him for all he’s done for the Dillon Cubs,” said Fox of a list of contributions that will continue to swell with McRae as the Beavs’ skipper.

“Big Tyme and Zach will have the chance to work together to keep pitch counts down,” said Fox of a practice of only allowing a pitcher to throw only so many pitches each outing to help keep his arm fresh.

“We want your pitching to get better and not worn out,” insisted Fox.

“I think we have a pretty special group of kids coming up who have a bright future ahead,” said Bartlome of the Cubs. “We are super lucky with what we have coming up to the Cubs and all the players we have returning from last year. And that we have a great group of parents, a great board that wants to see the Cubs succeed,” said Bartlome, who played a big part in raising money to help start the high school baseball program, according to Fox. Bartlome has also acted as one of the driving forces behind the ongoing expansion of youth baseball facilities at Ray Lynch Park that has helped power and harness the surge of young locals getting into baseball. “We have a strong young core of kids coming up, and our numbers keep increasing,” said Bartlome, who already has a list of more than three dozen interested in playing for the Cubs next season, and will hold tryouts next year for others interested in becoming part of the program sure to include an A and B team again in 2023.

“I’ve got May 24 tentatively scheduled as the first day of Cubs tryouts,” said Bartlome.

“We’ll select out players, then have our first practice, probably after Memorial Day,” said Bartlome of the prelude to what will be a compressed Cubs season.

“Then we’ll start playing games in June. It will probably be just a six-week season—a real race to get all the games and tourneys in.

“It will be a learning year, for sure,” said Bartlome, who sees the game of baseball as a never-ending opportunity for learning and personal growth.

“Baseball is in large part about failing and learning how to overcome that. There are so many life lessons in the game that you can teach the kids,” said Bartlome.

“We will build the team around four things—accountability, trust, commitment and desire. None of those things require talent, but they do require hard work and dedication,” added the owner of a successful local business.

“I just want to thank the Cubs board and players and parents for the opportunity to be next head coach and hopefully keep moving this program forward.”