Jay Johnson has been the Arizona Wildcats baseball coach for one week. He’d better be prepared to stick around for at least 728 weeks.
The UA baseball program has been built on coaching stability for over a hundred years.
Johnson knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed on the dotted line to become the leader of the Wildcat baseball team.
“This is a place you go and you stay,” Johnson said at his introductory press conference. And it’s true. Arizona is the definition of a destination job.
One of my favorite @ArizonaBaseball notes: the highly successful coaching lineage. Nearly 100 years and only 7 coaches since 1922!
— Blair Willis (@BlairWillisUA) June 8, 2015
It started in the same place every tale of UA sports begins: with J. F. “Pop” McKale. He coached everything when he took over as the school’s athletic director in 1914 but the program he piloted the longest was baseball. McKale finally hung up his ball cap after completing his 30th season as the baseball coach in 1949.
McKale promoted his assistant to replace him and it paid off handsomely. Frank Sancet put Arizona on the national map with nine trips to the College World Series in 23 seasons including six appearances in seven seasons from 1954-1960. Sancet was elected to the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
If Sancet put Arizona on the college baseball map Jerry Kindall made Tucson a capital city. Kindall was an assistant coach at Minnesota, his alma mater, when he was hired to take over the UA’s successful program. Kindall made the Wildcats even more successful, winning three national championships in 24 seasons. In 2007 he became a member of the Hall of Fame’s second class.
After Jerry Stitt’s short stint the rebuilding project was entrusted to Andy Lopez who had just been let go at Florida after earlier success at Pepperdine. Fourteen years later Arizona had another 490 wins and the school’s fourth national championship. It’s only a matter of time before Lopez becomes the UA’s third hall-of-fame baseball coach.
Considering the university didn’t “show the fight of wild cats” until the fall of 1914, you can rightfully say Wildcat Baseball has been coached by just six men.
Six coaches across 101 years with four coaches accounting for 94 of those years. That’s stability. That’s a destination job.
Make yourself at home, Coach Johnson.
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|Pop McKale||30||1915-'19, '22-'49||302||118||7||.715||-||-|
Worth noting: If you include Lopez’s pre-Arizona work, he and Kindall combined to win five championships in 10 CWS appearances. Against eight-team fields!
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