Diamond King

Tim Hyers has traveled an unlikely path, from second-round draft pick out of Newton High School to hitting coach for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

by Brian Knapp

Tim Hyers stood on the field at Dodger Stadium on a 72-degree night in October and wondered for a moment if it was all real. He had accepted an offer to become the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox on Nov. 4, and a little less than 12 months later, he was posing for pictures with the Commissioner’s Trophy—awarded each year to the World Series champion. It was, in fact, real: The Red Sox had capped a historic 108-win season by reaching Major League Baseball’s mountaintop.

“It was exciting,” Hyers said. “It was just a long ride with a lot of emotions, and when it finally came to an end, we had accomplished all of our goals. It was a great team with a lot of guys you were pulling for. The players believed in each other and just connected. It was one big family, an I-got-your-back-you-got-mine kind of team.”

On a personal level, it was the culmination of a lifetime of hard work that has its roots in Covington. The oldest of three sons born to James and Brenda Hyers, he became a star on the baseball diamond at Newton High School. Hyers was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round of the 1990 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and spent parts of four seasons (1994–96, 1999) in the big leagues with the Padres, Tigers and Marlins. He compiled a .217 batting average with two home runs and 19 runs batted in across 133 career games, walking nearly as many times (27) as he struck out (32). 

“It was just a long ride with a lot of emotions, and when it finally came to an end, we had accomplished all of our goals. It was a great team with a lot of guys you were pulling for. The players believed in each other and just connected. It was one big family, an I-got-your-back-you-got-mine kind of team.”

Boston Red Sox Hitting Coach Tim Hyers

Hyers retired following the 1999 campaign, coached for a year in the Tigers’ minor league system and then left baseball altogether. However, he returned as a scout for the Red Sox in 2009 and covered the state of Georgia for four years. Hyers was later hired as Boston’s minor league hitting coordinator, spent time as an interim hitting coach at the major league level and in 2016 accepted a position as assistant hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then Boston called. When Hyers arrived in Florida for spring training prior to the 2018 season, he was greeted by familiar faces, as men he once coached as minor leaguers now formed the core of what would become a championship team. It made for a smooth transition. 

“It was easier going to the Red Sox because I had been their minor league hitting coordinator for four or five years,” Hyers said. “Every single starter we had, except for two, I coached in the minor leagues, so I was ahead of the game because I could relate to them. When I showed up the first day, it was just about catching up and seeing where they were at.” 

The team was special from Day 1. In Hyers’ first season as hitting coach, Boston led the major leagues in runs scored (876), hits (1,509), doubles (355), batting average (.268), on-base percentage (.339) and slugging percentage (.453). The Red Sox were an offensive juggernaut by every measurable metric, their prolific lineup anchored by a budding superstar in right fielder Mookie Betts, the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2018. Betts, 26, socked 32 home runs from the leadoff spot, scored 129 runs and with a .346 average became the first Boston player in more than a decade to win a batting title.

“Mookie is one of a kind,” Hyers said. “He’s an exceptional athlete but also very coachable. He communicates back to you. He doesn’t have an ego. He understands there are ups and downs, and he’s honest with himself.”

For 81-plus days out of the year, Hyers calls Fenway Park home. It remains one of the most revered venues in all of sports, and he can literally reach out and touch The Triangle, Pesky’s Pole and The Green Monster. Opened on April 20, 1912—less than a week after the RMS Titanic sank in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean—Fenway Park has played host to many of baseball’s all-time greats, from Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Carlton Fisk to Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs. It oozes history.

“It’s an amazing place,” Hyers said. “When you walk down the street before a game, people are so excited. The atmosphere is like that every game. It’s hard to explain.”

Decades in professional baseball have provided Hyers with a vast reservoir of knowledge upon which to draw as a hitting instructor, his philosophy derived from shared experiences and years of trial and error. During his playing career, he shared locker rooms with some of the game’s most recognizable figures, from Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti and Steve Finley to Alan Trammell, Travis Fryman and Cecil Fielder. They influence him to this day. 

“Every hitter is unique,” Hyers said. “They all swing the bat differently. You have to figure out what works for them. I always try to see it from their perspective.” 

With continued success, more lucrative coaching offers figure to come his way. However, Hyers cannot foresee a situation in which he gives up his role as a hitting instructor for a managerial seat. The married 47-year-old father of three believes he has found his wheelhouse. 

“I think hitting is my passion,” Hyers said. “I enjoy the day-to-day battle, studying film, preparing a game plan. It’s what gets me up every morning. I would never say never, but right now, I have no desire to manage.”

Hyers opened his second season with the Red Sox on March 28 in Seattle. He finds humility in the path he has traveled from player to scout to coach and remains grateful to those who helped him light the way.

“I do believe God’s got a plan,” Hyers said. “It’s so interesting to watch things fall into place. I was out of the game at one point. It’s nice to reflect on the journey you’ve made and how it all came together.” 

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