Arnie Beyeler played softball in the summer because there wasn’t an organized baseball program for boys over age 14 in Moab. Moab resident Larry Key helped him get on an American Legion League team in Grand Junction, Colo. the summer of his junior year of high school so he could play baseball.
“He said I needed to get out of town to play,” Beyeler said.
That opened the door for Moab-born Beyeler for a career in professional baseball. This last week he was hired as the Red Sox first base coach.
“I’m pretty excited. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Not a lot of minor league guys get a chance to work in the big leagues. It would be like a college guy coaching in the NFL without ever playing in the NFL,” Beyeler said. “You get hired to be fired. If you don’t win games you get fired. It’s more intense, but I’m excited about it.”
Beyeler was born in Moab to Fred and Nellie Beyeler in 1964. Fred Beyeler worked as the veterinarian in Spanish Valley until he and Nellie divorced when Arnie was 10 years old.
Arnie and his mother Nellie stayed in Moab and he finished his schooling here.
There was no doubt Beyeler was an athlete.
He played baseball each summer, moving up through little and pony leagues. In high school he lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track.
“Basketball was probably my favorite sport, but I wasn’t tall enough,” Beyeler said, who stands 5 feet 9 inches tall.
He graduated from Grand County High School in 1982, then went to live with his dad in Grand Junction, Colo. for the summer to play another season of baseball in the American Legion League.
“That was a pretty big step in playing over there,” Beyeler said.
His team went to went to the American Legion League World Series in Boyertown, Penn. in 1982.
From there he played baseball at Lamar Junior College in Colorado.
“I didn’t like it,” Beyeler said. “It was a horse training school. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
He stayed for a year, and then was recruited by Wichita State University in Kansas.
“That was pretty fun. I learned a lot there. The coach was phenomenal,” Beyeler said. “It was big time college baseball. The only reason I went to school was to play baseball.”
After graduating from college he played six seasons of professional baseball between 1986 and 1991 in the Detroit Tigers farm system and a year of Triple-A ball with the Toledo Mud Hens.
He worked as a scout for the Detroit Tigers in Florida for four years and spent three seasons in the New York Yankees organization as a batting and in-field coach.
He continued to move around the country for his career, working for the Red Sox system as a manager of the Lowell Spinners and the Augusta Green Jackets in the South Atlantic League. He moved west to California to manage the Stockton Ports and Bakersfield Blaze, then to Alabama as the batting coach for the Mobile BayBears.
He returned to the Red Sox system in 2007 to manage the Portland Sea Dogs. For the last two years he managed the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, the Red Sox’ top level minor league affiliate. He led the team to an International North Division Title in 2011 and its third Governors’ Cup championship in 2012.
“I thank everybody there for their support,” he said of friends and coaches in Moab. “Everybody had a good part in what I do and have been real supportive. It’s neat doing what I do and travel all over the world. It’s been a lot of fun to see people that I know.”
Mike Steele was his assistant coach in high school. Steele played college ball and did spring training ball with the California Angels, but he never signed a professional contract.
“I started coaching because of Arnie. He was in high school. I never had the opportunity to be coached by someone who had been out there and back. I felt satisfaction in watching him go,” Steele said. “We both had similar dreams.”
Whenever Beyeler visits with Steele, he asks him to “say ‘hi’ to everyone.”
“He’s still a small town boy in the big league,” Steele said. “He’s very appreciative of his roots and the people who have supported him. He has always remembered the people who have raised him in Moab.”
The two have never quit talking about baseball.
“He has helped me in my coaching career. Any new techniques, he shared with me and we implemented in Red Devil baseball,” Steele said. “He was always anxious to share.”
Steele said that when he was coaching Steven Hirschfield he was being hounded by scouts. Beyeler, who worked as a scout, gave him a great piece of advice.
“Just give them your phone number and put your pitching rotation on your answering machine,” Steele said. One time more than 20 scouts showed up to see Hirschfield play.
Beyeler expressed appreciation for Steele’s support.
“He taught me a lot of stuff. He was a good player himself. He was the best player I’ve ever seen coming out of Moab,” Beyeler said.
Beyeler said he saw Hirschfield, who now pitches for the Double-A team New Britain Cats, play a game against his team this last year.
“He’s a good kid. I hope he’s doing well,” Beyeler said. “I grew up watching his dad play.”
Steven’s dad is Rick Hirschfield, the owner of Riverside Plumbing and Heating.
Beyeler’s new job comes with a learning curve.
“My responsibilities are to coach first base and coach the outfielders,” Beyeler said. “That’s unique because I was an in-fielder.”
Beyeler mainly played short-stop and second base in his career.
“I’ve coached outfield along the way as a manager, but my specialty is as an infielder,” Beyeler said. “I’m getting a chance to broaden my horizons.”
Most of his work will be reviewing game footage.
“There is so much video available. It is mind boggling,” Beyeler said. “I will be reviewing it to make it usable to put the guys in the right spot to catch the ball.”
He usually spends the winter coaching Fall Leagues in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic. Instead he is staying home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida to be with his 18-year-old son Brady, who is in his senior year of high school. His mother, Nellie, is there too.
“She has followed me around and helped with the kids,” Beyeler said.
This weekend he is supposed to go to training with all the other coaches just hired by the Red Sox.
Instead he is going to see his daughter Jordan, a professional dancer, perform in Chicago.
“I had to finagle my way, but it was a priority,” he said.