The way Bryce Florie sees it, he didn’t become a Major League Baseball pitcher on his own.
He had talent, but he also had a lot of help.
Among the men who assisted Florie were his father, Robert Florie, and longtime Hanahan High School coach Bill Steadman. They were among the many who instructed and nurtured Florie.
“I could spend the rest of my life trying, but I could never repay the men who coached me,” said Florie, a Hanahan native who was a pitcher for four major league teams from 1994-2001. “Because of them, I always thought the coolest thing in life is to coach once your days as a player are over.”
Florie, whose pro career was cut short after he suffered a horrific injury while pitching for the Boston Red Sox, will finally get to experience the feeling of being a high school baseball head coach. Northwood Academy has hired Florie to replace Jerry Stoots, who retired last month after 42 years of coaching and 850 career victories.
Florie spent five years as an assistant coach at the high school level, including the last couple of years at Hanahan. He was the head coach in an independent professional league for two years, and has coached several travel baseball teams.
But his goal always was to be a head coach at the high school level. It wasn’t easy; he had to go back to school to get certified to teach. But Florie said he knew it was the best option for him and his family — wife Lynn and 2-year-old daughter Avery.
“Having a wife and child made me step back and look at things,” said Florie, who turned 43 last month. “The reality is that I gave up a lot over the years because of baseball. When you play baseball, you move around and travel. Unfortunately, that is not conducive to family life. I didn’t want to travel as a coach.”
Florie pitched for four teams in the majors — San Diego, Milwaukee, Detroit and Boston. He was a pitcher for the Red Sox when his career and life changed in a split second.
On Sept. 8, 2000, the New York Yankees’ Ryan Thompson hit a line drive back to the pitcher’s mound that struck Florie in the face, breaking multiple bones and causing eye damage.
Florie’s recovery was slow, and after pitching in seven games in 2001, he was released. He tried a couple of comebacks in the minors, but nagging arm problems made him realize it was time to quit.
“I never got to fulfill my career,” Florie said. “I was 30 years old and was still trying to figure it all out. But it’s been so long ago that my players look at me as an older man who doesn’t look like he could pitch in the majors.”
Florie said one of the best parts of being a head coach at the high school level is the opportunity to be there for players and make a difference in their lives.
“Talking to a coach is another outlet,” Florie said.
John Rhodes, the founder of the Charleston-based Diamond Devils travel teams, predicts Florie will succeed at the high school level.
“Bryce is a good baseball guy with a wealth of experience and knowledge,” Rhodes said. “His experience with a wide range of ages and talent levels makes him well qualified to be a high school coach.”