Metro Minute

Bilbrey, Estes Join Metro League to Coach Green Sox

By Sophie Ozier

For the past two summers, C.J. Bilbrey served as the head coach for the Explorers, which played in another college-age league.  There he led his team to an overall 47-22 record, winning the league championship in 2013.

This season Bilbrey has joined forces with Harris-Stowe State University colleague (and Metro Alumnus) Dave Estes, to serve as co-coaches for the Metro Collegiate Green Sox.  Although the two didn’t start coaching together until 2014, they played together on Harris-Stowe’s team for two seasons. Estes has just concluded his seventh season as the head coach and Bilbrey his second season as assistant coach for the Hornets, prior to making their coaching debut with the Metro League on June 1.

“The wooden bats are a huge difference in this league.  There’s absolutely no question that a wood bat is the real tool of the hitting game.  College players who use wooden bats during the summer months really step up their game."    Is it harder to hit with a wooden bat?   "Oh, you bet!    That's why so many “rec” players and leagues stay with metal.  They think it gives them an edge when it's actually holding them back."

Bilbrey then noted two other big differences with the Metro League - the pitching and the competition.  "The pitching's a lot stronger here than in any other league I’ve coached in,” said Bilbrey.  "Every at-bat's an adventure.  I'll tell you something else - when you play in the Metro League, you'd better strap it on tight.  These guys really come after you and play a hard nine."

When asked if it was hard to transition from one league to another, C.J. didn't hold back.  “I'm just happy to be part of this fine organization.  They've been around for so many years; and they have such a rich history of great college players and coaches.  When you look at their alumni, you'll see a lot of guys who got to the pros.  The directors and coaches do a great job.  It's no wonder that some of the best players in this area have played for the Metro League.  So, no - it wasn't a tough decision to make the jump.”

A majority of the Green Sox players followed Bilbrey from the Explorers, eight of which come from Harris-Stowe. “I think it'll be interesting to see how this group does in the Metro League now, just to kind of compare how good this team really is.  We really struggled our first couple of games and I think that had a great deal to do with the superior pitching in this league, not to mention getting accustomed to the wooden bats.   We’ve put some wins together now, though, and we’re feeling much more comfortable.  Competition is a must in a summer college league and it looks like we're meeting the challenge of playing in a much tougher program.”

Yes you are, coach.  Good luck this season and welcome to the St. Louis Metro Collegiate Baseball League.