I remember when I first saw Jayce Tingler step to the plate in a Tiger uniform, in the Spring of 2000.
The first thing we all noticed was his height. Supposedly 5'7", but that might be stretching it. He certainly didn't tower over his new boss, Tim Jamieson.
He also grabbed our attention by stopping on his way to the plate at the beginning of each at-bat, grabbing the bat at both ends, and jumping over the bat, just to loosen up.
Between nearly every pitched ball he would step out of the left-handed batter's box and readjust the velcro straps on his batting gloves. This kid was a bundle of energy.
But those first impressions are not what first comes to mind when we think of Jayce Tingler as a ballplayer. One play, repeated over and over again, defined Jayce Tingler's career as a Tiger.
They knew he was going to do it. They even knew he was probably going to do it on the next pitch. Everyone in the park knew it. They all knew it because he'd done it against team after team, with increasing frequency, throughout his career.
Jayce Tingler had both the daring and the honed skill to successfully lay down a bunt in the most non-traditional circumstances: not as a sacrifice to advance a runner, but as a method of getting a hit.
The pitched baseball approaches. He steps toward the ball and starts his dash for first base at the same time. He directs the ball to just the right spot, always in the same few square feet in the no-man's land equally distant from the catcher, the pitcher and the first baseman.
The catcher hustles out for it. The pitcher twirls and tries to pounce on it. The first baseman doesn't know whether to go for the ball or protect the base.
It doesn't matter. By the time someone - anyone - comes up with the ball and throws toward first, Jayce is already crossing first base. If it's close, he's crossing first in a head-first slide in a cloud of dust.
The home crowd goes wild. The fielders stand there shaking their heads, looking stupid. And the next Tiger hitter approaches the plate with joy, knowing Jayce is on base ahead of him, and that the pitcher will be distracted by having an aggressive and canny base runner taking an absurdly long lead off first.
"Whenever he walks into the room, you know it," freshman James Boone said. "He carries respect with him on the field, from umpires, everybody." (Columbia Tribune, 6/8/03)
Tingler was drafted after his senior year at Mizzou, taken in the 10th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. His teammate, Ian Kinsler, was picked in that same draft, by the Texas Rangers, in the 17th round. Kinsler was the starting 2nd baseman for the big league Rangers just three years later. Tingler's playing career ended after four years bouncing around in the Blue Jays and Rangers minor leagues.
But then The Rangers organization sent him to be a coach in the Dominican Republic, and he's been developing young ballplayers for the Rangers organization ever since.
Coming out of college, coming out of pro ball, I had a pretty good grasp of teaching outfield play, teaching hitting. But I think when I started managing down there [in the Dominican Repulic] and running the program, it forced me to learn outside of my comfort level. I had to learn about catching defense. I had to learn about pitching. I had to learn about weight training. I had to learn about strength conditioning. The whole aspect. Instead of just certain areas that I focused on as a player — fielding, hitting, bunting, baserunning. In that three-year span, we were at the academy, we lived at the academy, we really didn’t go off site much. We were down there about 10, 10½ months of the year. Looking back, it was a very valuable time to grow in your profession down there. Kind of on-the-job training. (Columbia Tribune, 7/15/14)
As their 2014 season crashed and burned, the San Diego Padres nabbed the Texas Rangers' Assistant General Manger A.J. Preller to be their General Manger. Preller had agreed not to raid too many of the Rangers' personnel to fill positions with the Padres, but over the last couple of weeks rumors have swirled that he wanted to bring Tingler, the Rangers' minor league field coordinator, to the Padres as his Minor League Director.
The Rangers countered by promoting Tingler to the newly created position of Major League Field Coordinator.
Tingler, according to local reports defining the scope of his new position, will "organize spring training, organize workouts, and act almost as a secondary bench coach during games," and will also be involved with big league baserunning and outfield instruction, two areas that Gary Pettis was responsible for before he left to take a job on Houston’s coaching staff. (The Newberg Report)
Tingler has been on my short list of potential candidates for the Mizzou Baseball Head Coach position if and when that job ever comes open. I suspect we may have to wait quite a while for him to be available for that job.
This promotion is not likely to be the pinnacle of Tingler's rise in the ranks of MLB coaching. If I know Jayce, his energy and baseball knowledge will eventually put him in a maanger's job someplace in the Majors.
So here's a Tip of the Cap to Mizzou Made Jayce Tingler, the best ballplayer I ever saw at Simmons Field.
The Newburg Report: The cap fits – Jayce Tingler is in the big leagues
Columbia Tribune: Q&A with Jayce Tingler
Columbia Tribune, 4/6/2000: Tingler makes immediate impact
Jayce Tingler's Mizzou Baseball Records
- 1st Career Runs: 226
- 2nd Career Hits: 274
- 1st Career Bases on Balls: 168
- 2nd Career Stolen Bases: 66
- 4th Career On-Base %: .482
- 4th Season Stolen Bases: 20 in 2001
- 5th Career At-Bats: 784
- 6th Season Stolen Bases: 19 in 2003
- 6th Season On-Base %: .525 in 2003
- 9th Season Hits: 85 in 2003
- Led the 2000 team in Walks (44), Stolen Bases (14)
- Led the 2001 team in Batting Average (.304), Runs (47), Walks (43), Stolen Bases (20)
- Led the 2002 team in Hits (74), Triples (4), Runs (65), At-Bats (214), Stolen Bases (13)
- Led the 2003 team in Batting Average (.395), Hits (85), Runs (68), Walks (48), Stolen Bases (19)
- Tingler committed just 2 errors in 476 career chances (.996 fielding %), and none in his final two years at Mizzou.