THOMASVILLE – Rob Shore has spent the better part of his life around baseball.
From the time his father introduced him to the sport at a very young age until now, Shore, 41, has played and taught the game with a cool and calm demeanor that masks a burning desire to win and mold young players into community leaders.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve had a baseball in my hand,” said Shore. “My dad was a baseball player growing up and he just loved the game so it kind of transferred over to me. We were always out throwing, hitting, and watching the [Atlanta] Braves on TV. It was natural for me just to fall in love with the game of baseball. “
Shore’s athletic career started in Liberty, S.C. where he played baseball and football. Shore often found himself in leadership positions, whether it was quarterbacking the football team or sitting behind home plate calling pitches. He relished being in the middle of the action, a trait that followed him throughout his professional career.
“Being a quarterback and playing catcher are both leadership roles,” said Shore. “I think being in those roles during my high school career provided a natural feel for me to go into coaching. I knew what it was like to be a player from a player’s perspective.”
Shore flourished on the baseball diamond and eventually continued his career at Southern Wesleyan University. Making the jump from high school to college can be a daunting leap for any young player and Shore credits his time playing American Legion baseball in the summer as a key reason he successfully handled the transition.
“I played three years at Easley Post 52 in Easley, S.C., playing American Legion ball,” said Shore. “I think that experience prepared me for college better than anything else I’ve ever done, because it’s a grind and you can’t mimic being able to play with kids from different schools.”
Once his college career came to an end, Shore in 2000 followed his wife to High Point, NC in 2000, not really knowing what life had in store. He knew he wanted to be involved in the game in some way, but Shore was new to the area and was in need of some connections.
Reid Holmes, manager at Southwest Guilford High School, provided Shore with his first coaching opportunity, teaching the young JV manager not only the game on the field but the logistics of running a team off it.
“That was where I first started learning,” said Shore. “The first couple of years, you still have that player in you. You have to divide the player and coach within you and you’ve got to see the see the game from an entirely different viewpoint. Coach Holmes really inspired me to continue coaching and he really taught me a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, small ball, small things that he did. He showed me how to organize.”
Shore’s managerial career began in force in 2006 when he accepted the head coaching job at Trinity High School. It didn’t take Shore long to branch out into the community. The following year Shore found himself filling his summer months as an assistant to David McKnight on the High Point-Thomasville HiToms Post 87 legion team. With several of his players on the roster, joining the Post 87 staff was a natural fit.
“I’ve always enjoyed being around the game, whether it was playing, umpiring, running camps or coaching,” said Shore. “I got into coaching for the love of the game itself.”
Shore settled into the program so seamlessly that when the manager position came open the following summer, Greg Suire, president of the Thomasville HiToms, did not have to look far for a replacement.
Suire credits Shore with helping lead the program from local afterthought to community staple. Suire instituted an organizational development program; Shore’s ability to implement the approach on the field played a key role in Post 87’s resurgence.
“Rob has been the tipping point in the ascension of our legion program,” said Suire. “Before he came on board we were very marginal. There were a number of things we did besides hiring Rob, but he was the tipping point. His leadership skills, his passion, and his personal investment with our players have made all the difference in the world.”
Shore spent the next 10 years pulling double duty. He pursued a few opportunities, but nothing proved quite right. Finally, a door opened in Wallburg at a program known for baseball success.
“You have those times in life when you feel that the Lord is kind of pushing you toward a change,” said Shore. “I was there 11 years, but the last two years I was there, I felt like change was coming. I think the Lord was shutting the door and it opened up at Ledford [High School].”
Ledford baseball experienced a mass exodus over the past year as the Manager Chris Adams lost his entire assistant coaching staff to Oak Grove High School. Ledford’s loss turned into Shore’s gain.
“Coach Adams was left with no coaching staff,” said Shore. [His assistants] had a chance to start at a brand new school and build a baseball program, so I understand the decision. I also knew the type of team Ledford was bringing back. I picked up the phone and called Coach Adams and asked how he would feel if I came onboard. He was all for it. He kind of helped the process and got me the right contacts.”
A change in surroundings turned out to be the right decision for Shore.
“This is my first year there and I’ve absolutely loved it,” said Shore, who teaches children with learning disabilities. “It’s a great school, and that’s one thing you have to have: you can be at a good baseball program, but if you don’t enjoy your teaching job, it’s not really that fun. My teaching job is really fun.”
Even as he embraces his new school, Shore remains focused on seeing Post 87 continue its quest for a state championship. Having made the state tournament in five of the past seven seasons, Shore feels Post 87 is poised for continued success as the program embraces a culture coveted among the American Legion baseball ranks.
“One of the main things that sort of changed the culture over here is that we’ve been able to sell our program,” said Shore. “You have to have good players, but you also have to be able to hang onto those good players. In order to do that, the best recruiting is not anything I say or Greg says, it’s the kids enjoying their time being out here. They then go back to their high school and tell their guys what a great summer they had playing for us. That was what turned this program around. We have made this game enjoyable for the kids in this area. We are getting some really good players from this area and I’m excited about what we’re going to put on the field this summer.”
Shore’s father died in October and he hopes to honor the man who gave him the gift of baseball by passing on that passion to his players.
“When my dad passed, it’s almost like a little bit of the baseball history between us went away too,” said Shore. “I think that’s something that he was able to leave behind for me that I am able to continue in coaching. His love for the game motivates me. I’ve always wanted to just be around baseball so why not be a coach and a teacher and be able to pass on some of the knowledge and character that has been taught to me.”
Coming into the 2018 season, Shore has both immediate and long-term goals for the program. Post 87 is set to host the state tournament later this summer at Finch Field, giving the Junior Tommies an automatic bid to the festivities. Shore, however, has no intention of relying on a free pass.
“We’re hosting the state tournament, and I’m excited about it; but it also puts on a lot more pressure,” said Shore. “We get an automatic bid, but it doesn’t change our approach at all. In fact, it may even put a little more on me because we’ve always earned our way into the state tournament. We’ve never been given a bid since I’ve been here. The last time it happened in 2006, our team won four games. I want to make sure we earn our way in. My ultimate goal is to win the state championship, go to the Southeast Regional, and play for a national championship.”
Shore does not look too far ahead, but his objective is clear: win a state title. He has seen his players reach the major leagues, go onto Division 1 schools, and play baseball in the ACC. He judges himself on the success of his players, and not so much on what they have accomplished on the diamond.
“When you start something, you really want to complete it,” said Shore. “The level we’ve been able to play over the last seven years, we’ve been close five times. I don’t want to walk away from this position without winning a state championship. One thing I want more than anything is that these kids become good fathers, husbands and community leaders. Down the road, I want kids I’ve coached to come up to me and not talk baseball but talk about the positives in their lives. That’s what I remember most about coaches I’ve played for; it was never anything game related and always was something that inspired me more than the game I was playing. If people remember me as a baseball coach, that’s fine, but I want to make an impact in their lives more than anything else.”
Suire shares Shore’s goal of bringing a state title to Finch Field, and feels he has the manager to make it happen.
“Rob is a very good baseball coach,” said Suire. “He’s knowledgeable, but his ability to connect people and get them to play for a common goal really is his greatest asset. To me, that is the greatest asset of a leader. He does it so wonderfully.”
Self-described as a coach who is cool, calm and collected, Shore feels that he is someone who makes his players feel comfortable on the field. While his job is coaching baseball, Shore feels molding young men is a responsibility.
“My Christianity and my faith probably keep me from going to places where I shouldn’t as far as getting irritated when we’re not playing well,” said Shore. “I am more of a game-manager, and I like giving the kids mental tips. That’s something I feel I can bring to the table as a coach. My job isn’t to impress on them what my ultimate coaching philosophy is, it’s to try and get them to gel. That’s something I feel that I’ve done well with. I want the kids to enjoy the experience more than anything. The fun is in the winning.”
The state legion baseball tournament is scheduled for July 26-30 at Finch Field in Thomasville.