Dave Jorn finds next coaching chapter in Korea

By: Matt Jones
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Arkansas pitching coach Dave Jorn watches during practice Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas pitching coach Dave Jorn watches during practice Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

— Dave Jorn retired from college coaching earlier this year, but not from coaching the game he loves.

The Razorbacks’ longtime former pitching coach never had any plans to leave baseball. At 61, the desire was to leave the year-round recruiting rigors of the college game.

So it came as no surprise when Jorn was hired to coach again earlier this month. What did raise some eyebrows was his new team: the SK Wyverns, a professional baseball team located in Incheon, South Korea.

“I never intended on sailing into the sunset or going out to pasture, so to speak,” Jorn said. “It was nice in June to not have to run all over the place and watch games recruiting, but after about three weeks I got pretty bored and was anxious to get back into doing something.”

Shortly after Jorn stepped down at Arkansas in May, he began to send out feelers to MLB franchises. Jorn is no stranger to the professional game. In between stints with the Razorbacks from 1983-88 and 2002-16, he coached minor league baseball for the Yankees (twice), Mets and Diamondbacks.

“My plan was to go back into pro ball and do a little March to September deal, and get about six months off a year,” Jorn said. “Maybe it was just ego or whatever, but I really believed that I would be able to pick and choose from some of the organizations, and didn’t think I would have any problems whatsoever.

“I didn’t get any offers at all from the pro teams. I sent out letters of interests and job application stuff to all 30 clubs.”

It was while with the Yankees organization in 1989 that Jorn met Trey Hillman. The men coached together in Woodbridge, Va., and kept in-touch through the years.

Hillman, the former Kansas City Royals manager, was most recently the bench coach for the Houston Astros. He and Jorn spoke over the summer when Jorn came to Houston to watch his former pupil Dallas Keuchel start a game for the Astros.

Jorn told him he was out of college coaching and looking to get back into the professional game.

After the MLB season ended this fall, Hillman was contacted by Wyverns to become their manager. He was asked to submit a list of possible assistant coaches he could bring with him. He quickly submitted Jorn’s name.

“There’s an old saying that you can’t change the stripes on a zebra or the spots on a leopard,” Hillman said. “I only worked with Dave for one year, but from working with him I knew what kind of cloth he was out of. I saw the work ethic and his ability to teach, and his ability to motivate.

“I really liked his demeanor and his wisdom, and the way that he taught.”

Jorn will retain a residence on the east side of Fayetteville and live overseas for about six months. He has agreed to coach the team for one season, then re-evaluate whether he wants to sign on for another.

The move coincides with his wife’s own retirement from 35 years of teaching elementary school.

“She’s looking forward to doing some traveling,” Jorn said.

It is the second time Jorn will coach internationally. He worked with Yankees teams in Venezuela for a couple of winters during the 1980s.

Hillman, who previously managed a Japanese team for five seasons, said Jorn has qualities that translate well to international baseball.

“The first quality is acceptance — the acceptance of the way they do things,” Hillman said. “They are very different overseas than what we think is the right way. When you start to feel any sense at all of frustration that you don’t understand why or how they’re doing something, the first thing you have to tell yourself is, ‘I’m in their country; they’re not in mine. I’ve got to back off my Western pride and realize that my way is not the only way, and these guys have been doing things a certain way their entire life.’ It’s quite possible their way may be better than ours.

“I think Dave encompasses an anywhere-in-the-world skill set that is going to be productive for a pitching staff.”

This story originally appeared in Hawgs Illustrated

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