Weathers to step down from head coaching position
Mike Weathers to end nine-year career as skipper of Long Beach State baseball
Dirtbags Head Coach Mike Weathers will hang up his cleats and retire at the end of the 2010 season, after nine years of leading the Long Beach State baseball team.
“It was a big weight off my shoulders,” Weathers said about making his announcement. “It’s just something that I think is good for the program. I’ve always been a true believer that no one is bigger than the program here at Long Beach State, and I’m not.”
Weathers led the Dirtbags to six NCAA Regional appearances and two Super Regionals. He was named the Big West Conference Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2008.
He will walk away from The Beach with three years remaining on a five-year contract extension he signed in 2008. Associate head coach Troy Buckley, who was promoted from pitching coach in late February, will take over as the new head coach next season.
This is Buckley’s first season with The Beach since returning from a two-year stint as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ coordinator of minor league pitching. He had previously held the position of pitching coach with the Dirtbags from 2002-07.
Buckley recruited current Dirtbags Major League players such as Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, who honed their skills at LBSU under Weathers’ guidance.
“I think the program deserves better, and right now, I’m not giving it what it needs,” Weathers said. “I think somebody else needs a shot at it.”
The Chapman University graduate broke the news to his players at a 1:30 p.m. team meeting Tuesday afternoon to tell them that he was leaving the program on his own terms.
“I tried to make light of it,” he said. “I told them ‘you guys are going to hear a lot of things. I’m not dying of cancer and I didn’t get fired.’ That’s really all I said.”
Weathers said he had been contemplating retirement since the end of last season and thought a new face is needed to revitalize a program that suffered through its first losing campaign since 1988 after posting a 25-29 record in 2009.
“There needed to be a change and new energy in the program, because it hasn’t been going great the last couple years,” Weathers said. “And, I reached 60 years old. I’ve been doing this for 32 years, and so it’s time. It can give somebody else a chance, and there’s no hard feelings.”
The Dirtbags (21-23, 7-8 Big West Conference) are tied with UC Riverside for fourth place in the conference and are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.
Seven former Dirtbags coached by Weathers, including Longoria and Weaver, currently fill roster positions on MLB squads. Weathers also led the Dirtbags to Big West championships during the 2003 and 2008 seasons.
“Mike has been an outstanding leader of the program and a great representative of the university,” LBSU Athletic Director Vic Cegles said in a press release. “He has recruited and taught numerous major league prospects, but more importantly, he has mentored hundreds of young men to graduation and maturity.
“I consider Mike not only a terrific baseball man, but a life coach who will leave a strong legacy on the campus and in the community. To be sure, we wish him and his wife Charlotte all the best in his retirement years.”
Weathers began his coaching stint with the Dirtbags in 1993 as an assistant before replacing Dave Snow as head coach in 2002. During the last nine years, he has led LBSU to a 309-198 overall record.
Along with coaching at the University of Utah from 1980-81, Weathers was the head coach at Chapman for nine seasons before taking his assistant position at LBSU. His all-time head coaching record sits at 588-484-2.
Weathers credited Snow for setting the foundation for a program that churned out 13 Major Leaguers under his watch.
“There was something really good in place when I took over,” Weathers said. “I just tried to be a caretaker and keep it going and I think we did for the most part.
“Along that way, we taught it the same way. … They did most of it and have taken it from there to become really good players. That’s why they’re big leaguers.”