Former Dodgers and UCLA pitcher Tim Leary, a finalist in the recent Cal State Northridge head baseball coaching position search, has agreed to join the staff as the Matadors’ new pitching coach.
“I’m excited to get back into college coaching,” said Leary, on the UCLA staff under Gary Adams from 1997 to 2000 as a pitching coach after his 13-year major-league career ended in 1994. He returned to UCLA in 2004 and also worked with the Loyola Marymount’s staff in 2006, and has been coaching individual players aged 8 through high school for the last three years.
“I love the real grass roots of local youth baseball and it will be great to build a winning program again at CSUN. I feel there’s a big demand for better coaching with kids coming up from Little League, Pony Leagues and high school travel ball.”
With a degree in economics from UCLA, Leary (pitching for the Bruins, right) also understands the fundraising aspect of college sports and how he can help improve the facilities at CSUN.
“It’s adequate enough to do what we need to do here, but starting with getting lights so we can play and practice after dark, there are things we can do to make improvements,” said Leary. “It’s mostly about getting the student-athletes motivated and wanting to win. We can build some winning teams here.
“(New head coach) Matt Curtis is a great hire and he knows the drill. I’m flattered to be in the final three (candidates for the head coach spot) and this (pitching coach position) is a good fit for me.”
Curtis said Leary’s “track record of success at the collegiate and professional level as a player is unmatched among Division-I pitching coaches. He’s earned great success at the collegiate level as a pitching coach in his time at UCLA and is a proven winner at every level.
“What excites me the most is that Tim was a successful major league player who was also committed to earning his degree. He possesses a strong commitment to the academic development of our student-athletes and, in my opinion, is the right person to build and develop a culture of success both on the field and in the classroom.”
Leary, 51, a Santa Monica High grad and the second overall MLB draft pick by the New York Mets in 1979, was both a Sporting News All-America player and earned Academic All-American honors in his last of three years at UCLA. He was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991. Only two other baseball players — Jackie Robinson, and former American League president Bobby Brown – were in the UCLA athletic hall at the time of Leary’s induction.
“Matador baseball is determined to become one of the premier teams in the Big West Conference both on and off the diamond and the addition of Tim Leary to our staff is further proof that Matt Curtis is looking to make an immediate and positive impact on our program,” said CSUN Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto.
(Left: UCLA pitching coach Tim Leary makes a visit to the mound to talk to Jim Parque during the 1997 College World Series. Photo courtesy of UCLA.).