J.T. Snow retired from baseball as a first baseman following the 2006 season. The six-time Gold Glove Award winner may not be playing any longer, but he is still working.
In February, Snow will head to spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz., to assist the San Francisco Giants at both their big league and minor league camps as an infield coach for two weeks. As a roving minor league instructor, he will also spend time during the 2012 season with the Giants’ short-season Class A team in Keizer, Ore., in the Northwest League, the organization’s Class A California League team in San Jose, and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League team in Fresno.
He has also worked on Giants radio broadcasts on KNBR 680 AM, serving as a color commentator on weekends.
“I enjoy working with the minor league guys, it’s rewarding,” Snow said Monday, before the annual Giants Napa Golf Outing at Napa Valley Country Club. “An extra set of eyes and ears in the organization.”
A career .268 hitter who was known for his outstanding defense, Snow will spend time with Aubrey Huff, Brandon Belt, Brett Pill and Buster Posey — imparting his knowledge and experiences about what goes into playing first base, a corner infield position.
“It’s fun, it’s a good time,” said Snow, who spent nine of his 131⁄2 seasons with the Giants.
“There’s going to be some good competition this spring. We’ll see what happens. That’s what spring training’s for, a time to kind of separate things. Last year nobody expected Brandon Belt to make that team out of spring training. But he came in and he opened some eyes.”
Snow was among several Giants celebrities on hand to play in the golf event that also featured an auction to benefit the non-profit Giants Community Fund. The Giants Napa Golf Outing was presented by Compadres Rio Grille and the River Terrace Inn of Napa.
The Fund supports Junior Giants leagues throughout Northern California, Nevada and Oregon and provides assistance to targeted community initiatives in the areas of education, health and violence prevention.
Since its inception in 1991, the Fund has donated over $13 million to community efforts.
The Fund is sustained by contributions from individuals, businesses and foundations through a number of special partnerships and fundraisers.
Junior Giants, the flagship program of the Giants Community Fund, is a free, non-competitive and innovative baseball program for boys and girls ages 5-18 years old. The Junior Giants program now serves 17,000 boys and girls in more than 85 leagues across California and into Nevada and Oregon.
The Community Fund provides all of the uniforms, equipment and training necessary to run a league as well as tickets to select Giants games so the youth can experience a major league game.
“The Junior Giants and the Community Fund is such a good program and we’ve supported it for a long, long time, my wife (Laurie) and I,” said Giants bench coach Ron Wotus. “This is a fun event.”
Wotus and Snow were joined by Jim Barr, Fred Breining, Ed Bressoud, Dave Flemming, Rich Murray and Rich Robertson.
Murray is a former first baseman who stressed the importance of playing solid defense.
“The most important thing about a first baseman, he has to be able to play some good defense, along with swinging the bat,” said Murray. “If you can get the guy that has the glove and the bat, you should be OK.”
Also on hand was Steve Bono, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who works for the Niners as an alumni coordinator through the team’s community relations department.
Bono is high on Alex Smith, who got the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game after winning the NFC West title.
“He finally was put into a situation where he could be successful,” said Bono, who has worked for Comcast Sports Net Bay Area. “He was given confidence that he was the guy from minute one that (coach Jim) Harbaugh showed up, and he took advantage of it. He had a spectacular year. I think that he’ll be even better going forward. He’s always had a good head on his shoulders and he’s got good feet and he has a good arm, and now he’s been put in a position to be successful. And he will be.”
Monday’s event drew a full field, and combined with the auction and sponsors, raised over $30,000. The Giants Community Fund sponsor dinner was Sunday night at Compadres Rio Grille.
The Giants Community Fund partners with many local organizations to raise awareness about important health-related causes.
“The Giants Community Fund is such a great organization,” said Flemming, who is part of the organization’s broadcast team. “We help so many kids and I’m proud to help them do that. I’m always glad to be here.”
Wotus likes the Giants’ overall depth, particularly in the infield. The return of Posey from a season-ending injury in 2011 is key.
“Whenever you go through an injury like that, it’s nice to see the player back on the field with a smile on his face again,” Wotus said.
“Things have evolved. We’ve changed some personnel and we believe we’re much better off going into the season. I think most of the guys on the field everybody knows. They have a proven track record, and that’s good for us.”
The Giants have a deeper bench going into spring training, said Flemming,
“They have some options. If guys aren’t performing, at-bats will go to other players, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “There’s a lot of questions to be answered in spring — probably more questions than we’ve had in several years. But I think the expectations are high and should be high. I think the Giants will have a real nice year.”
The KNBR 680/Giants FanFest presented by Hawaiian Airlines, featuring autograph booths, a live KNBR broadcast from home plate, question and answer sessions on the Club Level, and giveaways, is Saturday, Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at AT&T Park. It’s free admission to FanFest.
Giants team members and broadcasters scheduled to participate include Bruce Bochy, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval, Madison Bumgarner, Brian Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Barry Zito, Aubrey Huff, Ryan Vogelsong, Brandon Belt, Nate Schierholtz, Brandon Crawford, Dave Righetti, Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper.