Stephanos Stroop, who led the Strasburg Express to the 2015 VBL championship and the Lineweaver Cup, was voted the Maynard “Mo” Weber Manager of the Year in a vote of league directors. The Express finished the regular season with a 27-23 record and entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the North division.
Stroop (Claremont McKenna ’10), currently an assistant coach at St. Catherine College and an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves, returned for his second season with Strasburg after a disappointing sixth-place finish last year. Despite their 2014 finish, Strasburg returned a contingent of six veteran players who contributed to the team’s success.
Stroop’s management of his team through a series of challenges says much about his character, said Express President Jay Neal. The season started with the loss of returning All-League pitcher Mike Vinson, who was drafted by the Dodgers and signed before the season even started.
The team also saw their roster diminished by injuries, family tragedies and players who decided their season was finished before the team’s was.
“We endured an ugly stretch mid-season, losing 8 of 11 games,” Neal said, “but through it all, I never so much as heard Stephanos raise his voice to his players.”
In a release issued by the Express, Stroop thanked Neal and his family for providing the opportunity to manage in the Valley League, as well as director of player personnel Paul Neal and director of player development Duke Dickerson, the team’s recruiting coordinators. Strasburg benefited from the team’s creation of a new network of 20 scouts around the country, many with major league ties, who helped feed quality players into the Valley.
Stroop also thanked his assistant coaches Noe Ruiz and Stephen Dickerson, “who made me a better coach as much as they made our players better.” Additionally, Butch Barnes and trainer Christina Biddle, “unsung heroes who repeatedly take care of any task set before them.”
“To receive an award like this one is a huge honor,” Stroop said. “However, everything we accomplished this summer was a team effort. Good players make good coaches and we had a great group of young men who played hard, cared about each other and demonstrated a passion for the game.”
“Lastly, the love and support of my mother, friends, and coaching brethren helped me handle the roller-coaster that is the season.”
While earning his master’s in sports management at Georgetown University, Stroop spent two years as an assistant coach and pitching coach at George Washington University, and also scouted for the Washington Nationals.
The Maynard “Mo” Weber Coach of the Year Award was established in 2008. An educator and businessman, Weber coached baseball for more than 65 years. He was head coach at The College of William and Mary from 1964-65 and again from 1978-1981. When Weber stepped down from his coaching position in New Market at the age of 88 in 2011, his jersey, No. 1, was also retired.