Keith Griffin has compiled over 500 wins with the Amsterdam Mohawks — in less than 700 games

Amsterdam Mohawks manager Keith Griffin departs from a mound visit during a game against the Saugerties Stallions on Wednesday.

Amsterdam Mohawks manager Keith Griffin departs from a mound visit during a game against the Saugerties Stallions on Wednesday.

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AMSTERDAM — There’s really no way to beat around the bush: Amsterdam Mohawks coach Keith Griffin has won a lot of baseball games.

Griffin began leading the Mohawks in 2009 and has since gone 504-181, earning his 500th victory with the club last Friday in a win over the Watertown Rapids.

“To do it here [in the PGCBL], it’s phenomenal,” Griffin said of the milestone. “I think it’s how quick we did it. I think we’ve only lost a hundred-something games. I know I’m closing in on 1,200 overall, but to get to 500 here, as quickly as we did, it’s due to how many good players and good coaches I’ve had, our administration and just that continuity we’ve had.”

“It’s impressive,” said Gabe Singer, a Mohawks assistant coach from the University of Utah. “He did it in less than 700 games; he’s got 500 wins in less than 700 games — that’s crazy.”

While Griffin points to the players who put in the work, as well as his coaching staff, Mohawks president Brian Spagnola knows why Amsterdam is able to attract top talent from around the country.

“There’s no doubt, we’ve got a lot of wins because we’ve got a lot of good players,” Spagnola said. “But good players still need to be coached. A big reason we get those kinds of players is because college coaches want their guys to play for Keith. They know they’re going to get better and put in the work.”

A recent example is Wake Forest shortstop Marek Houston, who went directly from playing in the College Baseball World Series to joining the Mohawks starting lineup this week.

“I think what’s a separator for us is that come July 1, our guys are still getting better,” Spagnola said. “that’s the work ethic Keith demands out of them.”

While Griffin knows that he’s been coaching for longer than he’s likely got left in the tank, he enjoys returning to Amsterdam every summer.

“I’m late in the fourth quarter, but I’ve had an absolute bomb,” Griffin said. “I get to coach great players in a great atmosphere, with coaches I like being around. I like the fans a lot, love the atmosphere and I’ve got a lot of great friends and relationships up here.”

“We never talk about that until after the season,” Spagnola said on whether Griffin plans on returning for the next season, “but I know he loves it here and he loves coaching baseball. It’s his life and we love to have him here. We’ve built something pretty special and I’d like to think we’re both in this for the long term.”

To begin their 2023 campaign, the Mohawks entered Thursday with a record of 25-1. Amsterdam suffered its first loss after winning the first nine games of the season. After that June 15 loss to the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs, the Mohawks have since gone on a 16-game winning streak.

That stretch set a new franchise record, surpassing last season’s streak of 15 consecutive wins.

“I don’t know our record or how many we’ve won in a row. If you were to tell me, I’d have to take your word,” Griffin said. “I just know we’ve lost one game. That’s just attributed to good players, who go out and play well every night.”

A man who certainly takes a lot of pride in that stretch is Mohawks pitching coach Zach Breen. His staff has allowed an average of 3.65 runs per game, over 26 games this season.

Over 18 of those games, Mohawks pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer, including a pair of shutouts.

“I see them and I’m grinding with them every day,” Breen said of his pitching staff. “What I like about these guys the most is that when there’s something they know they need to work on, and if they’re not getting it, they get frustrated. That shows me how much they all care.

“The days they don’t have it,” Breen said, “they’re going to come back the next day and be the hardest worker in the group and that’s the pride and culture that we have here.”

Breen, who played for the Mohawks when he was in college, returned to work with Griffin as a member of the coaching staff.

“When I was a player here in 2013 and 2014, I tried to remember as much of that formula as I could. I took some of that back to Barton when I was a senior,” Breen said.

“Even the little things that you hear in the dugout,” Breen added on Griffin. “The things he believes in, the things he pushes and the things he talks about taking advantage of that are working in certain situations, it’s just about putting your best foot forward and being as confident as you can. That’s something that I’ve really learned from him; how to speak with confidence and portray confidence.”

“He’s as knowledgeable a pitching coach that I’ve had,” Griffin said of Breen. “He does an incredible job of going home after the games and breaking down the opponents, knowing what they hit on the fastball and what they hit on the breaking ball. He just does a great job with our pitchers.”

On the offensive side, Amsterdam has averaged 9.85 runs per game, having won via the mercy rule nine times.

One thing that’s for certain: If you plan on heading out to Shuttleworth Park for a game, you’d better get there early, because parking runs out fast.

“We have such a great staff who work so hard to book groups, Little Leagues, students and events,” Spagnola said. “When you combine that with a winning team and you put it together, it’s going to be pretty loud every night.”

Contact Kyle Adams at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @kasportsnews and on Facebook at Kyle Adams.


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