The failures that keep flowing to Orioles manager Brandon Hyde as if shot through an open hydrant are made more tolerable by having his best friend to share in the journey.
Hyde is a first-time manager guiding the Orioles through the infancy stage of a massive rebuild. He appreciates the competitiveness one night, including yesterday’s 8-4 win in Seattle that ended a 10-game losing streak, and then fumes at the litany of mistakes in a blowout loss.
He walks that thin line between encouraged and embarrassed.
Each step is taken with field coordinator and catching instructor Tim Cossins, an early and logical hire to the staff.
They worked together in the Marlins and Cubs organizations, but the relationship dates back much further. All the way back to Hyde’s early teenage years.
Hyde recalls the day that his father picked him up at school with plans for the afternoon.
“I remember him saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to go watch the catcher at Santa Rosa High with the hair,” Hyde said.
That would be Cossins, who played the same position.
They didn’t know each other growing up. Cossins was four years older and they lived on opposite sides of town. But a catching reputation eventually brought them together.
“I was a player in junior college and he was in pro ball,” Hyde said. “When I was a player at Santa Rosa Junior College, Tim used to come back and work out there in the offseason. He was playing in the minor leagues. That’s where we first met.
“We’re from kind of a smallish town where a lot of players didn’t play after college, so I think there was a group of guys right around Tim’s time that played professionally. So we all were trying to get to that spot.”
The friendship evolved from there.
“It’s funny,” Cossins said, “I don’t remember a lot but do remember stuff about that for whatever reason.
“I just remember coming home and we would work out at the JC and we were both catchers, so we were just trying to bounce stuff off each other and trying to make it happen. I just remember immediately watching him hit and thinking, man, he can flat-out hit and then our friendship grew from there. We would work out together, we would go to the JC and hit or wherever we could.”
They became roommates for a year and now vacation and spend holidays together with their families. Cossins is the godfather to Hyde’s son Colton.
The cash flow is much improved these days.
“We both had no money,” Hyde said. “We were struggling-type minor league players and had crappy winter jobs and we tried to have these crappy winter jobs but be able to still work out and stuff in the afternoon. I was mowing lawns at a golf course and selling firewood.
“So we were both like mid- to late-20s guys that all of our friends were kind of like starting their lives and we’re like hanging onto our minor league careers mowing lawns on the golf course in the mornings.”
Cossins worked in a guitar shop, perhaps influenced by his brother Mike, who played the bass. He calls himself “a hobbyist.” But at least he looked the part with his long hair that Hyde’s father used to identify him.
“The look was late-80s long hair,” Cossins said. “That was kind of the thing back then. I think I was in my own mind trying to pull off a Darren Daulton thing. I don’t know.”
“Yeah,” Hyde said, smiling, “I’ve seen pictures.”
“In retrospect,” Cossins continued, “it’s funny how your looks have a bearing on what people think of you. Long hair, I looked like I didn’t care about the game. I was the exact opposite. I bled the game. I think sometimes appearances, especially back then, had a big thing to do with it.”
You can see more of this story, which I enjoyed writing, in the second edition of Orioles Magazine that’s on sale now at Camden Yards or available through subscription online at orioles.com/publications.