WASHINGTON – The Narron family has been in North Carolina for generations and baseball has been a large part of their story.
“I was the eighth man (from the family) to play professionally and there has since been a ninth,” Sam Narron, 39, told Federal Baseball from Florida, where he is part of the Instructional League staff with the Nationals.
Narron pitched in high school in Goldsboro, North Carolina, played at East Carolina, and was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2002 in the 15th round out of college. He made his Major League debut with the Rangers in July, 2004 against the Oakland A’s.
He is the cousin of Jerry Narron, a former catcher who appeared in 392 games in the majors between 1979 and 1987, was the manager of the Rangers in 2001 and 2002, and guided the Reds from 2005 to 2007.
Jerry Narron in the past was part of the coaching staff for team Israel and this past season was the bench coach for the Boston Red Sox.
Sam Narron is also the grandson of another Sam Narron, who played in 24 games with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s. The elder Narron died in Raleigh in 1996 at the age of 83.
The younger Sam Narron was the Single-A Potomac pitching coach in 2019 and was slated to be with Double-A Harrisburg in the same role in 2020 before the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.
Since he was not part of the alternate site, Narron was able to spend a week at the beach this past summer with family members at Emerald Isle in North Carolina.
“Growing up I lived an hour and a half from the beach, but I never got to go,” said Narron, who has been in player development with the Nationals for nine seasons.
“I was always playing baseball. I spent seven days in a row at the beach (this summer). I don’t think I spent seven days in seven years at the beach.”
To fill time, Narron watched video from intrasquad games in Virginia and also took part in regular Zoom calls with pitchers in the Nationals’ minor league system.
Some of the pitchers he kept in touch with were Jackson Tetreault, Andrew Lee, Gabe Klobosits, Carson Teel, Mitchell Parker, Paolo Espino, Tim Cate, and Nick Wells.
Parker was drafted in the fifth round by the Nationals out of a junior college in Texas this past summer.
“We had a Zoom meeting pretty much once a week,” Narron said. “It was pretty much a weekly basis. We had talks about different subjects and I tried to keep them engaged. We had umpires that I knew and how to interact with them and how to interact with the coaching staff and front office.”
“We touched on some topics they might not have thought about but they need to understand how to do things so they can move forward. Once you get to a certain level, once you get to Double-A, Triple-A, the big league level, the ability of everyone is super high. It is the little things that separate you from the pack,” he added.
Once Espino, Cate, and Wells were part of the 60-player pool in Fredericksburg, they did not participate in Zoom calls with Narron.
After months away from baseball, Narron joined the coaching staff in West Palm Beach to be part of the Instructional League.
“It was fantastic. It is such an interesting dynamic,” he said. “We have guys who were at the Fredericksburg site and have been grinding through this for three months. They have been watching baseball for months. Then we get down there and are jumping for joy. They have been going through this for a couple of months. It was an interesting dynamic. Everyone was glad to see each other.”
One of the pitchers at Instructional League is right-hander Zachary Brzykcy, who played three years at Virginia Tech. He grew up near Hickory, North Carolina, and worked out with Narron several times this summer during the shutdown.