Loran Smith’s Sports Column: Ned Yost
Published 2:53 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023
GREENVILLE – The contentment in Ned Yost’s life today could not
be more striking and fulfilling as he farms, hunts, fishes, puts up for the
winter, cooks and cleans on his 500-acre spread which is about ten miles
from Warm Springs where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to
enjoy outdoor abundance in the Pine Mountain Range.
Ned’s spread would be fitting for a country squire except that such
landowners traditionally employed “hands” and laborers to provide
production and harvest in their fields and woods. Ned does it all himself.
He and his wife Deborah are keen on filling their freezer with venison
from the abundant deer on his property. “We kill about 25 deer each year
and process many of them for our table,” he says. There’s more. He
fishes for bass and bream on his 26-acre lake which he built when he
settled in at Rising Rock Ranch where he constructed a brick house with
more columns than Scarlett O’Hara erected at Tara.
Ned cuts the grass throughout the plantation, he plants acres of
sunflowers for the dove and plots of clover for the deer. There are egg
laying chickens, and a vegetable garden which yields a horn of plenty,
including his favorite, sweet corn.
If you come for dinner, Ned will do the cooking from what he
produces and get this, when dinner is over, everybody, including Deborah
stays put. Ned will clean up the kitchen.
When he retired from baseball, he told his wife that she had done
enough: never complaining about moving the family from minor league job
to minor league job—and the constant travel of his major league
affiliations—cooking, managing the home front and doing everything that
moms do; from carpooling to home chores, grocery shopping and helping
“From now on,” he said to Deborah, “I will do the cooking and
cleaning. Your home duties are over.”
His man cave happens to be a multi-purpose barn with a shelter, a la
lean-to, where you’ll find tractors, including a John Deere 6120M, and
assorted farm equipment which Ned keeps in good working order. There
are sleeping rooms and lockers, loaded with camouflage, for him and his
three sons, Ned Jr., who played baseball at Georgia, Joshua and Andrew;
and, Jenny, who is an outdoor aficionado, too.
When he settles down at his desk to do paperwork or plan his week,
he is surrounded with dozens of animal mounts from his lifetime of
When he retired following the 2019 season as manager of the
Kansas City Royals, Ned knew that he would not return to baseball. He
would spend the rest of his life down on the farm. That life, he will quickly
tell you, is, in part, a result of what the Big-League pension plan can do for
those who are baseball lifers such as Ned, provided that they manage their
money prudently. His net worth would turn heads of those in his graduating
class back in Dublin, California where he grew up for the most part.
He made it to the Big Leagues as a catcher but did not distinguish
himself over a five-year period except for helping him prepare for a future in
baseball as a scout, coach and manager. He could recognize talent and
was imbued with cogent leadership skills.
His respect for Hank Aaron and Bobby Cox has no bounds. “Hank
Aaron was a very smart baseball man, not just the greatest homerun hitter,
and I learned so much from working with Bobby Cox.” It was Cox who
influenced Yost’s managerial style, principally that “it is always about the
A manager like Tommy Lasorda, for example, can be the center of
attention. Lasorda was a colorful character, with a volatile temper—a
headline maker, but players are aware when the manager plays to the
camera. Cox was cooperative with the media but he had no interest in the
limelight. Yost is cut from the same cloth which is the way it is with current
Braves’ manager, Brian Snitker.
As a manger, he wore No. 3, which was the car number of his close
friend, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Earnhardt’s death was a tough loss for Ned,
who, during the major league strike of 1994-95, spent time as a member of
Earnhardt’s pit crew.
Ned, when he reflects on Atlanta’s long run of divisional
championships, also had the high praise for Leo Mazzone, the heralded
Braves’ pitching coach during the 14-year streak. “I would say that
because of Leo that 90% of the pitchers who came to Atlanta improved and
became better pitchers. Leo’s focus was that the pitchers were “gonna”
throw more with less effort; develop touch and feel, develop their command
and go out and compete. That is a huge reason everybody who came to
Atlanta got better.
“Of course, John Schuerholz made a big difference. He went out and
signed players that would help us win, those who were competitors and
who had a good influence in the locker room.”
Early on in his dozen years with Bobby Cox, Ned watched Cox’s
every move. They often sat and drank coffee with Cox playing the role of
teacher and Ned being the inquisitive pupil.
Ned has always had an inquiring mind and has forever underscored
the work ethic. He scrubbed pots and pans at a Kentucky Fried Chicken
restaurant in high school to make himself stronger—before weight lifting
became a staple of athletic training. When he was managing in Jackson,
Miss., he developed a brief second career as a taxidermist in the off
Ned’s career as a manager began with the Milwaukee Brewers in
2003 for seven years. Then came that uplifting run with the Royals and the
unforgettable defeat of the Mets, four games to one, to claim the 2015
That’s all good for reminiscing down on the farm where the work ethic
is still ingrained in his makeup, committed to keeping his acreage as
spruced up and productive as the 1995 Braves and the 2015 Royals. And,
allowing Deborah, his best friend, to live the “Life of Reilly.”