One way or another, George Washington’s suspended baseball coach Steve Mandl was going to be in attendance to watch his team play for the PSAL Class "A” title Saturday.
“I had to be here,” Mandl said. “It meant so much to the kids and it meant a lot to me too. There was no way I was missing this, I just wish I could have been on the bench.”
Mandl had to watch his Trojans beat the Tottenville Pirates 4-2 to win the city championship from the stands like any other spectator when a judge failed to grant him an injunction in time for their final game. Mandl was suspended by the PSAL for allegedly recruiting a player.
“After about 8:00 p.m. last night I knew there was no chance a ruling would come in time,” Mandl said. “It’s so surreal. I was in Camden at a Phish concert last night and every time I got a text I thought I was getting the word.
“I was at a concert having the time of my life, but every second I was thinking about baseball.”
Despite the fact that Mandl couldn’t coach in the biggest game of the year, he parked himself right next to his team’s dugout and some players said that just his presence in the ball park along lifted their spirits.
“Just having him here there with us today was amazing,” said Washington’s center fielder Ferneyls Sanchez. “He didn’t say much to us during the game, but every time there was a big play I would just look over to him and make eye contact. That alone was huge.”
At one point on Saturday, Mandl thought he might have one more shot at coaching in the final. Rain struck the “B” division game that took place immediately before the Washington/Tottenville game that caused a 75-minute rain delay. With more rain forecasted for Sunday, there was some thought that this game could have been postponed until Monday.
“Truthfully, I was hoping that it would get rained out,” Mandl admitted. “But with my luck it would have been a six hour rain delay first and I would have been waiting here until 11:00 p.m.”
Even if there had been a rain delay it wouldn’t have guaranteed that Mandl would be reinstated in time to coach. The game would have had to have been delayed Sunday as well and even then things would have had to go right in the court house.
“I felt like eventually they would have ruled in my favor,” Mandl said. “We just ran out of time.”
For as desperate as Mandl was to get reinstated in time for this game, while he was standing on the field watching his team celebrate their first championship since 2008, he wouldn’t take any of the credit and even went as far as to say that he wouldn’t have taken the head coaching reigns.
“If I had come back, I would have coached third,” Mandl said. “This guy (interim head coach Nick Carbone) brought them here. He deserved the honor of leading them. He did a great, great job. As tough as it was for the kids to deal with this it was even tougher for him.”