From Amherst to D.C.: McNamara Becomes Latest Lord Jeff to Transition Into Major League Baseball

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The oldest collegiate baseball program in the nation, Amherst College has developed into one of the most successful Division III programs in the country. Through the years, the Lord Jeffs' rich baseball tradition has produced students of the game that have made the transition from Amherst to major league baseball front offices as coaches, scouts, general managers and marketing and public relations personnel.

Joining the growing list of Amherst baseball alumni in the major league ranks is former pitching coach Shaun McNamara, now a Baseball Operations Trainee with the Washington Nationals. A graduate of Brown University and a four-year letterwinner for the Bears, McNamara arrived in the Pioneer Valley in 2009. In his two seasons as a member of head coach Brian Hamm's staff, the Lord Jeffs posted a 46-21 overall mark with a 17-7 conference slate.

Last season, McNamara helped guide Amherst to a 25-10 record and its first NESCAC West Division title since 2005. The Lord Jeff pitching staff proved especially effective, lowering the squad's earned run average by more than a run from 2010 to 2011, with right-handers Max McKenna '11 and Ryan Healy '11 garnering All-NESCAC recognition for their efforts.

"Shaun did a great job with our pitching staff by drawing on his experiences at Brown and in professional baseball," said Hamm. "He made our pitchers and our team better. We are going to miss his enthusiasm, energy, knowledge of the game and his love for Amherst. I am excited to follow what is surely to be a very successful career in professional baseball."

McNamara, who received his Master's degree in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts' Isenberg School of Management in May of 2011, recently sat down with Amherst sports information to reflect on his time with the Lord Jeffs and talk about his new life as a member of the Nationals front office.
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On pitching staff's success last season…
"I can't take credit for the success of the staff last season. My job as the pitching coach was to just put them in a position to succeed. They're a hard working and mature group and they were the ones out there executing the pitches and keeping us in ballgames all year. It was especially nice to see a couple of the older guys end up having great senior years."

On time at Amherst…
"I don't know if I have a favorite memory, but one of the things I enjoyed and will miss are the relationships I had with the administration, coaching staff and our student-athletes. It was probably the most rewarding thing I'll take out of my experience at Amherst."

On how coaching at Amherst has helped prepare him for his future endevours…

"The coaching staff at Amherst, coach Hamm, coach Adamski, coach Allar and myself, we talked baseball 24/7, so that in it of itself has helped me because it's all baseball, all the time here as well. There's also a sense of drive and urgency to win at Amherst that comes from the administration and coaching staff. It's something that I really enjoyed about my time there and something that I try to take with me in my own career every day."

On getting involved with the Washington Nationals…
"As part of the UMass sports management program, they pair you up with a mentor in the field of work you eventually want to pursue. My mentor was Adam Cromie, a UMass sports management graduate and the Director of Baseball Operations here with the Nationals. We stayed in close contact over the last year and a half and when the time came, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join their staff as a Baseball Operations Trainee."

On primary responsibilities…
"My day-to-day duties vary within the baseball operations department. My primary responsibilities are to help the advance scouting team compile scouting reports on opposing teams for the major league coaching staff. A lot of that is done through logging video of the opposition's minor league affiliates in case a certain player gets called up. I'lI also watch and chart a lot of our AA and AAA affiliates. That video will go to the Nationals' internal database so that the decision makers in the organization, like our director of player development and general manager, can go in and keep tabs on what's happening down at our affiliates. It's a really good way to watch baseball and see what's happening at the AA and AAA level."

On his other responsibilities…
"I also help out with different player development tasks, like keeping track of innings pitched for every pitcher in the system. Ideally, with each pitcher, you'll have a certain innings pitched limit for the year and that's something I'll track. There's also various filming that has to be done that I'll help out with and I also act as a liaison to the other departments in the organization outside of baseball operations, so that our general manager Mike Rizzo has a clear idea of what's happening in and around the ballpark during a particular game."

On memorable experiences in the first few months on the job…
"Just a few weeks after I got here we had our manager Jim Riggleman resign immediately after a walk-off win. That threw everyone in the organization off a little bit and there was a couple of days where a lot of people weren't sure what was going on, who was going to fill in and what was going to happen with the manager position. That was an eye-opening experience as far as how quickly situations like that can happen. I also had the opportunity to experience the draft from the draft room and was in the clubhouse for the trading deadline which was just really interesting and a great learning experience."

On overall experience thus far and future goals…
"It's been busy, but it's also exciting and in general there's a really optimistic feel around the organization right now so it's a fun atmosphere to be around. It's been a great starting point and I've learned a ton. The people here have been great to me and my experience thus far confirms my belief that I want to work in a major league front office. Ultimately, my career goal would be to a part of management or a decision making group that helps put a World Series team together."

On Amherst's presence and influence in Major League Baseball front offices…

"I think it has a lot to do with the history of the program – being the first collegiate baseball program in the country. The coaching staff, both present and past, recruits students of the game, first and foremost. Amherst baseball wants student-athletes that are extremely passionate about baseball and want to learn about the game. I think because of that, after they've committed four years of hard work, learned about the game and their playing careers end, it's a pretty logical next step for a lot of players that have that passion for baseball to continue on, pursuing careers in major league front offices. This summer, Cam Windham, a rising sophomore, is actually down here helping us out. Cam is a good kid and a great student-athlete. He's been doing a great job here, while getting a grounds-eye view of a major league front office. He's just another good example of how we like to have players who truly are students of the game and I think it's been good for him to spend a portion of his summer working with us at the Nationals."

On advice for those looking to pursue a career in baseball…
"Just devour as much as you can about the game at all the levels. There's always something you can learn. I feel like you can watch baseball for 50 years and still learn new aspects about the game. Consume it as much as possible, form your own ideas and just commit to the game as often and as much as you can."

On Amherst baseball…
"I'm still very close with the baseball coaching staff, so I plan on absolutely being in touch with those guys and keeping tabs on the team. It's a good mix of recruits coming in next season and veteran guys. I can certainly say that coach Hamm will have them prepared and ready to go from day one and hopefully we'll all get to watch them win a NESCAC Championship."