Getting cut from his high school baseball team as a freshman motivated Keith Ramsey to work harder.
It’s how he paved his way into the collegiate ranks. It’s how he eventually earned a chance to play professionally.
And it’s why he was looking forward to practice this week with the Crossroads boys baseball team, which is entering Wednesday afternoon’s game against Lancaster-McAuliffe at Clover Park on the heels of three consecutive losses.
“I like how competitive we’ve been,” Ramsey said. “It hasn’t always been perfect, but if we handle this past week correctly, I think we’re going to grow from it. I think the program has a lot of potential.”
It’s up to Ramsey, 36, to develop that potential as the new coach of the Roadrunners. He replaces Cooper Bergdahl, whose team went 7-13 overall last year. Bergdahl remains at the Santa Monica private school as a math teacher and middle school baseball coach.
Ramsey’s arrival at Crossroads can be traced in part to his relationship with athletic director Ira Smith, which developed as the two coached together in Manhattan Beach Little League. Ramsey said Smith called him about the vacancy.
Aside from a non-staff volunteer position at Manhattan Beach-Mira Costa, Ramsey doesn’t have any coaching experience at the high school level. But he brings to the Roadrunners his experience as a coach at Los Angeles Harbor College and Little League, his years of work with youngsters around the region as a private baseball instructor and his knowledge from playing professionally for more than a decade.
“I was never the most talented, so I always had to have some moxie, some extra incentive to be strong mentally and think through the process,” he said. “I think that lended itself to coaching. I like being around the diamond and seeing young athletes work through the challenges.”
An all-league honoree at Los Angeles-Loyola who was also an accomplished goalkeeper in soccer, Ramsey played baseball for two years at Harbor College before transferring to the University of Florida.
Although the Cincinnati Reds drafted him after his junior year at Florida, he decided to stay in college to develop his skills and complete his English degree. Then, after a senior campaign during which he went 10-3 with a 3.88 earned-run average over 109 innings, the Cleveland Indians drafted him. He played on numerous minor-league times, reaching the Triple-A level in 2004, and also held roster spots in Chinese and Italian leagues.
Ramsey said coaching was a “natural fit” for him after his playing career. He also moonlights as a broadcaster for ESPN and the West Coast Conference network.
For Ramsey, his experience of having to work for playing time in high school has helped him as he gets acclimated to his role with the Roadrunners.
“What it gives you is a little more perspective on the process and journey for young athletes,” he said. “Just because you’re not the best at 14 doesn’t mean that’s a precursor for what you’re going to look like in a few years. I know they’re still on their journey. What they look like at 15 could dramatically change in two years. It reminds me to be patient with these guys.”