First-year Windham High baseball coach Cody Dube, 24, pitched for Keene State and in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Fifteen months ago, Cody Dube made what he calls “the hardest decision of my life.”

The 2012 Windham High graduate, just 23 years old, decided he was done with professional baseball. The day before he was scheduled to report for 2018 spring training, Dube called the Baltimore Orioles and told them he wasn’t going to Florida. After two seasons pitching in the minors, he was ready to move on.

But Dube, 24, didn’t stay away from the diamond for long. Seven years after starring at Windham, he’s now the Eagles’ varsity coach.

“It’s been great,” said Windham senior pitcher Bryce Afthim. “Everyone is having fun. He’s still pretty young so he gets some of our jokes.”

Added sophomore catcher Brady Afthim, “He’s calm and collected, but he understands new-school baseball and has fun with it. I consider him a players’ coach. He’s on our side. He keeps it fun, keeps it loose. It’s more of a teammate and friend than a dictator of the team.”

Windham is 2-3 this spring. During a recent win at Falmouth, Dube quietly went about his duties. When coaching third base, he kept his comments few and direct. Between innings he checked mental notes with his young assistant coaches – Kevin Wilson, 28, and Dube’s former Windham catcher, Jack Herzig, 22.

Dube said he’s purposely trying to be low-key, in part because, “I don’t know if my being yelled at ever did anything good for me.”

“Baseball’s hard enough as it is,” he said. “So when you have pressure on you, and you’re stressing and you’re pushing, it just gets a hundred times worse. My whole goal the first year is to try to keep everybody positive, energetic, focused.”

Dube’s coaching style also reflects his personality, said his good friend and former Windham teammate, Mitch Dodge.

“He’s always had more composure and poise than anyone I’ve ever played with,” said Dodge.

Dube said he’s happy with his decision to shut down his own baseball career. He’s glad to be back in Maine where he can enjoy summer with family and friends, and “the winters, too, skiing and snowmobiling.” He’s putting his degree in safety and occupational health from Keene State to use as the safety coordinator for Langford & Low Construction, a Portland company that specializes in large commercial projects. In March he and his longtime girlfriend became engaged.

He wasn’t planning on getting into coaching so quickly but was asked to apply for the Windham baseball job by Athletic Director Rich Drummond. After a four-month interview process, Drummond said Dube proved to the hiring committee that he was the best choice to replace Brody Artes, who resigned following the 2018 season.

“Cody is very young and in simple terms a lot of people would say he was green, but what made Cody stand out to me was it was pretty clear through the process that he would have the ability to connect to the kids,” Drummond said. “And he knows baseball, without a doubt.”

Windham High baseball coach Cody Dube speaks with Nathan Plummer, left, and Tyler Thornton before their at-bats in a game at Falmouth last week. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

He also learned first-hand that coaches need to listen to their players. Dube wishes the Orioles’ minor league staff had been more willing to listen to him.

Dube had worked meticulously and deliberately on his pitching since his sophomore year of high school, when he first started to show promise. Working with personal trainer Adam Tielinen in Maine and then adding his Keene State pitching and strength coaches, he annually increased his fastball velocity.

As a senior at Keene State, he posted a 1.20 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings. His fastball was consistently in the 94-96 mph range.

“It was pretty clear that what Adam and I were doing was working,” Dube said. “I had set values. I knew I had to throw a lot, do a lot of long toss, and throw my bullpens at 100 percent.”

That effort paid off when he was drafted in the 10th round, 301st overall, by the Orioles. Sure, the signing bonus of $5,000 ($2,900 after taxes, Dube said) was short money, but the small-town kid who had no Division I or Division II college offers was now a professional.

And based on his statistics, it appeared he was progressing during his two years in the Orioles’ organization.

In 2016, at the short-season Class A level in Aberdeen, Maryland, Dube was 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA, with 20 strikeouts in 28 innings. In 2017, he was 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 65 innings  at Class A Delmarva (Salisbury, Maryland).

“It wasn’t the fast track but it was a good track,” Dube said.

But Dube was actually regressing. Both seasons he started well, then faltered as he lost velocity on his fastball. Dube believed he knew why. The Orioles’ minor league coaching staff told Dube to stop lifting heavy weights, stop throwing long toss, and ratchet down his bullpen sessions to 70 percent.

“I started having conversations with my coaches that I really believe I have to do the stuff I’ve always done to be successful,” Dube said. “I’ll always remember their quote: ‘Change takes time. Keep working through this. Believe in the process.’ I was giving up home runs which I’d never done because my fastball had sink. I really lived by my fastball so when I had a flat 88 mph fastball, that kind of left me with nothing.”

Like many minor leaguers, Dube was facing a decision with financial implications: Was it worth continuing to pursue a dream that paid $5,000 a year?

“You have no money, you’re tired all the time, not seeing friends and family,” Dube said. “I went to a Division III (college) and had loans I was paying off. When you’re on the mound pitching, you can’t beat it, but everything else is a pretty tough lifestyle.”

Dube said if the Orioles traded him to a different organization, or released him, he probably would have kept playing. Still, he has no regrets.

“Looking back on it now, even when I was in high school, I would tell myself the end goal was to give everything I had and to find out what I had in me, and to be the best player I could be,” Dube said.


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