The battle of the Wisneski brothers to decide who would take over and carry on the Wisneski baseball tradition came to a halt this week as the Belen School Board announced that last year’s assistant and the older of the Wisneski heirs, Joe, would take over the reins as head baseball coach for the Eagles. The only two people to apply for the job were Joe and his younger brother Tommy. The sibling rivalry was actually a little anti-climactic since the brothers decided that, no matter who got the job, they would hire the other as their assistant.
“I was really not expecting it, but Tommy had already said if he got the job he would have hired me as his assistant,” Joe said.
Joe has had five years experience as the assistant in Belen. He spent three years as an assistant for his father, Belen baseball legend Al Wisneski, in 1995, ’96 and ’98, as well as one year under head coach Mark Framel in 2000 and last year under head coach Mike Gutierrez.
“Right now, the first thing I’m going to work on with this new team is getting the numbers up,” Joe said. “Last year, we didn’t even have enough players to field a C team, and I want to fix that.”
If things go according to plan the baseball coaching squad should be a family affair this year, with Joe as head, Tommy, the middle brother, and David, the youngest brother, as two of the assistants.
“Right now, Tommy is trying to work his schedule so he can be the assistant, and David will probably help out,” said Joe.
This won’t be the first time all three Wisneski brothers have been on the same team. In college, all three brothers played at the College of the Southwest. David was the first to go, and he told Joe about an opening in the pitching staff, then Tommy transferred from Grand Canyon in Arizona. Tommy played middle infield, while David covered centerfield and Joe threw from the mound.
“We used to always say the team was really strong up the middle,” Joe recalled.
The brothers hope to use their different experiences on the field to help the team all the way around.
“Tommy was really a utility fielder, so he knows a lot about fielding,” Joe said. “He is really a great fielding coach, and he’s going to help me with the infield.”
David is expected to bring his experience at the dish to help the team’s batting.
The brothers have some pretty big shoes to fill, following their father into the coaching position here in Belen, but Joe says they’re not worried.
“There’s not really any added pressure,” Joe said. “If anything, we want to do better, it would be kind of cool to out-do dad.”
The brothers Wisneski have their work cut out for them this year, inheriting a team that went 3-16 and 0-12 in district play.
“When practices get started, we’re going back to basics,” Joe said. “I’m going to re-teach them throwing, hitting and catching.”
Despite inheriting a team that didn’t perform up to its potential last year, Joe is excited about taking over the head coaching job.
“As an assistant, it’s hard to lead the team by example,” Joe said. “You have to rely on what the head coach is doing, but when you’re the head coach, you can do things your own way.”