By Mike Kehoe
Dana LeVangie’s journey has taken him all the way to the big leagues, but the Red Sox pitching coach says that for him, it all started at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs).
“I was an ok player, but when I graduated from high school, I wasn’t necessarily looking to keep playing ball,” said LeVangie. “Once I got to [4Cs], I saw the team and wanted to get involved. After that, things just kinda took off and now here I am all these years later, still in the game.”
LeVangie, a native of Whitman, Massachusetts, graduated from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School in 1987 and enrolled at 4Cs. Once he got to campus, he decided to try out for the baseball team, despite having had no contact with any of the coaches prior to choosing to attend 4Cs.
On the baseball team, LeVangie was looking for an opportunity to stick on the team and he found his chance behind the plate. Despite barely having played there previously, LeVangie tried out at catcher because he saw an opportunity to get playing time.
“Deciding to play catcher at [4Cs] was one of the best choices I ever made,” LeVangie said. “Playing catcher really made me be a better communicator and it gave me a better understanding of the game.”
Initially, LeVangie was studying hotel and restaurant management at 4Cs because he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to play baseball as a living. He enjoyed his time at 4Cs and of course spent plenty of time at the Hyannis beaches with his teammates.
LeVangie played well in his two years at 4Cs, leading to scholarship offers from other college. Scouts even started showing up to watch his games and eventually LeVangie chose to play catcher for American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
At AIC, LeVangie went on to have a career that earned him an eventual spot in the AIC Hall of Fame. As a senior, he batted .473 with 13 homeruns and 87 RBIs and was named the 1991 Division II Northeast Player of the Year. The Boston Red Sox then selected him in the 14th round of the 1991 MLB draft.
After that, it was five years of the minor league grind for LeVangie. He bounced around from Class A-Advanced, to Double-A, and eventually he played eight games at the Triple-A level. It was then that LeVangie had to decide what path he really wanted to take his career down.
“I wasn’t really sure where I was going to go next,” said LeVangie. “I had gone all through the minor leagues, but at this point I wasn’t sure how much longer my playing career was going to last. I had a conversation with our minor league coordinator at the time and he gave me the idea of going to the [Red Sox] as the bullpen catcher.”
In 1997, LeVangie finally made it to the big leagues as the bullpen catcher for the Boston Red Sox under manager Terry Francona. He served in that role for eight years, learning about scouting and coaching behind the scenes as he worked with the pitchers in the bullpen.
After the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, breaking the 86-year drought, LeVangie transitioned into the scouting department for Boston. He remained in that role until 2012, picking up another World Series ring along the way in 2007. Francona would leave for Cleveland after the 2012 season, but LeVangie stayed on as bullpen catcher under new manager John Farrell.
Finally, in 2013, LeVangie was able to break through into the coaching world when he replaced Gary Tuck as the bullpen coach for Boston. In his first year in this role, the Red Sox went on to win another World Series. In the summer of 2015, he briefly served as the interim bench coach, as part of the coaching re-shuffle when Farrell took a medical leave of absence to battle lymphoma.
After the 2017 season, Farrell was released and the front office told LeVangie and the other coaches that they were free to start looking for other jobs. LeVangie was obviously nervous about his future, but he kept in contact with the Red Sox, even as Boston was coming to an agreement with Alex Cora to take over as the new manager.
“It was a tough thing to swallow, being told to go look for a new job,” LeVangie said. “Once Alex got hired, I had a talk with him and that kinda set the tone. I was in limbo for a while, but he told me to stay patient and we had more talks and eventually everything worked out.”
Everything worked out alright, as Cora and the Red Sox not only brought LeVangie back, but also gave him a promotion to pitching coach. LeVangie became the first non-pitcher to hold that role for the Red Sox since Mike Roarke in 1994. In his first year in this role, the Red Sox went on to win another World Series.
Dana LeVangie has traveled quite the path to wind up where is now. He has been a part of four different championship teams for the Boston Red Sox in several different roles for the team.
“I’m never going to change, because I got here by being the same person I am now that I was back at [4Cs],” said LeVangie. “I’ve never actively pursued moving to new positions, that’s just how it’s worked out over the years. I’m just going to continue to work hard and if I do that, hopefully opportunities will continue to come up for me.”