Paul Mainieri Named 25th LSU Baseball Head Coach
BATON ROUGE, La. ? Paul Mainieri, who directed Notre Dame to 533 wins and nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 seasons, was introduced Wednesday as LSU’s 25th head baseball coach by athletics director Skip Bertman.
The hiring of Mainieri, a 1976 LSU baseball letterman who also played two seasons at the University of New Orleans, is subject to approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.
“When I began the search for a new LSU baseball coach, I was looking for a unique individual,” Bertman said. “It would take someone special to lead this program, someone who would demand excellence in both athletics and academics, someone who would represent LSU with dignity and class, and someone who would thrive in the high expectations of a championship program.
“I believe LSU has found that man, and his name is Paul Mainieri.”
The 48-year-old Mainieri established an unparalleled standard of excellence during his tenure at Notre Dame (1995-2006), leading his teams to 11 40-win seasons, nine conference titles and a berth in the 2002 College World Series, marking the school’s first CWS trip since 1957.
Mainieri, a Miami, Fla. native, is ranked 22nd among active Division I coaches with 864 career victories. His Irish teams have combined for the nation’s fourth-best winning percentage during the decade of the 2000s (.728; 324-120-3), trailing only Rice (.752), Oral Roberts (.737) and Florida State (.734).
“I have known Paul for over 30 years,” Bertman said, “dating back to my days in Miami when I knew his father, the legendary Demie Mainieri at Miami-Dade North Community College. Paul’s strong baseball pedigree is one of his most admirable and valuable traits.
“He has Louisiana roots. He played at LSU and at UNO. He understands our culture and he appreciates the nuances of our people.”
Notre Dame has advanced to an NCAA Regional in every season since 1999, making the Irish one of 10 teams to appear in each of the past eight NCAA Tournaments ? the others include Miami, Texas, Rice, Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, Stanford, Clemson, Tulane and Oral Roberts. Notre Dame also joined six other schools (LSU, Miami, Rice, South Carolina, Stanford and Texas) as the only programs to reach an NCAA Regional final every season from 2000-05.
Mainieri, who earlier spent six years as head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy, completed his 24th year of coaching on the collegiate level in 2006 with an overall record of 864-492-4 (.637). He ranks second on the Notre Dame baseball career coaching wins list (533-213-3/.714), trailing Jake Kline (558-449-5; 1934-’75).
Forty-nine of Mainieri’s Notre Dame players were drafted or signed free-agent contracts, and 18 were selected in the first 10 rounds of the Major League draft. His Irish players also combined for 14 All-America and 10 Academic All-America seasons.
Mainieri’s Notre Dame teams combined for a 100-percent graduation rate (71 of 71) among players who completed their eligibility. Twelve players who signed professionally after their junior year have returned to Notre Dame to complete their degree requirements.
Notre Dame was the only Division I baseball program to produce Academic All-Americans each year from 2000-04, with two honored every season from 2000-03. The 2006 squad combined for an impressive 3.28 team GPA during the spring semester.
“At Notre Dame, Coach Mainieri achieved things that were never before accomplished in South Bend,” Bertman said. “ He was undeterred by the natural weather impediments of a Northern school in the sport of baseball. And while other coaches in the North and Midwest complain about their plight, Coach Mainieri never complains. He just wins.”
Notre Dame was one of just four schools from 1998-2001 that produced two pitchers – Brad Lidge (’98, Houston Astros) and Aaron Heilman (`02, New York Mets) – who were drafted in the first round, with both players advancing to the Major Leagues. Mainieri and his staff consistently have molded players into top prospects, as Lidge was just a 42nd-round pick out of high school while Heilman was a 54th-round pick.
Three of Mainieri’s former Notre Dame players – Lidge, Heilman and Christian Parker (New York Yankees) – have pitched in the Major Leagues, with Lidge emerging as one of the game’s elite closers.
Seven other recent Irish players developed into high draft picks despite going undrafted as preps: pitchers Tim Kalita (7th round in ’99), Danny Tamayo (10th round, ’01), J.P. Gagne (13th round, ’03) and Jeff Samardzija (5th round, ’06), shortstop Alec Porzel (13th round, ’01), centerfielder Steve Stanley (2nd round, ’02) and first baseman Craig Cooper (7th round, ’06) – with Tamayo, Porzel, Stanley, Gagne and Cooper each ranking among the highest-drafted seniors in the program’s history.
In the Mainieri era, nine of 13 Irish players who were drafted out of high school have gone on to be drafted in a higher round at Notre Dame while 24 who were undrafted as prep players went on to be drafted as members of the Irish program.
The 12 years of the Mainieri era at Notre Dame include 83 noteworthy players who have gone on to distinguish themselves after their Irish careers. Among that group are: three pitchers who have reached the Major Leagues; 16 other current professional players (plus 29 former pro players); nine lawyers/current law-school students; five medical/dental-school students; seven others who have received a master’s degree (including two MBAs); three engineers; five involved in medical sales; 11 college/high school coaches; three teachers; three commodities brokers; a sports agent; a contractor; and a town mayor – plus others who are involved in areas such as youth services, accounting, sales, athletic administration, technology, advertising, graphic design, banking and consulting.
In 12 seasons of Big East Conference play, the Irish won more league games (192-67-2, .740) than any other team in the conference. Mainieri owns the top career Big East winning percentage (.740) in the 22-year history of the league and four of his teams have posted 20-plus wins in Big East play (no other school has won more than 18 Big East games in a season).
The most recent season in the Mainieri era saw the 2006 team reach 45 wins (45-17-1) for the sixth time in the past seven seasons (all but ’05). The 2006 squad ranked among the national top-30 in all three major categories (batting avg., ERA and fielding pct.) for most of the season, with just a handful of teams being ranked among the top-30 in all three categories during the second half of the season.
Notre Dame finished among the national top-40 in ’06 in team batting (40th; .313), staff ERA (21st; 3.52) and team fielding pct. (22nd; school-record .972). Notre Dame completed 2006 as one of just four teams in the top-40 for all three of the above stat categories. The others included: Rice (.321/23rd; 3.16/4th; .972/21st), Oral Roberts (.327/9th; 3.63/27th; .973/19th) and Virginia — led by former Notre Dame associate head coach Brian O’Connor — (.322/20th; 3.04/3rd; .970/39th).
Notre Dame’s 45 wins in 2006 tied for the 10th-most in the nation while the team’s .722 winning percentage ranked 12th. The Irish also won the Big East Tournament for the fifth straight season, representing the nation’s second-longest streak of consecutive conference tournament titles (Oral Roberts has won nine straight Mid-Continent Conference titles).
In addition to establishing the team record for season fielding percentage, (.972; with just 69 errors in 63 games), Mainieri’s 2006 team set or tied four other Notre Dame records: strikeouts thrown (504), saves (18), staff strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.95; 504/171) and fewest wild pitches (0.38/gm). The 2006 team also totaled the second-most sacrifice bunts in Notre Dame history (65, one shy of the team record) while finishing with the program’s third-best totals in three other categories: 10.81 hits per game, 100 times hit-by-pitch and low staff walk average (2.69 BB per 9 IP).
The 2006 season saw Notre Dame set the Eck Stadium record for average attendance (2,514), totaling 60,334 fans during the season’s 24 home dates. The top-seven attendance numbers in the 13-year history of Eck Stadium all came during the 2006 season, led by 3,507 for the series opener versus Rutgers on April 21. Based on 2005 numbers and a 2006 sampling of 69 top teams (as of May 7), Notre Dame likely will finish among the national top-25 leaders for 2006 average attendance.
The wide-reaching excellence of the Notre Dame baseball program was reinforced at the athletic department’s 2006 awards recognition showcase, as the baseball team was the first recipient of the Notre Dame athletics “Trophy Award” – honoring one varsity team for community service dedication during the academic year. The 32 members of the Notre Dame squad combined to total nearly 200 hours of community service in 2005-06.
One of the team’s annual events is the Buddy Walk to benefit children with Downs Syndrome and their parents, in a day-long series of activities that concludes with a walk that always brings plenty of smiles to the children’s faces. The team also “adopted” a local South Bend-area family through a Salvation Army program during the Christmas holidays. The senior class coordinated the effort while the entire team participated in providing food, supplies and presents to help cheer up the holidays for a local family.
“One thing I can guarantee is that LSU fans will always be proud of the way their Tigers play under Coach Mainieri,” Bertman said. “He brings out the best in his players in more ways than one. He makes them sound players and he produces winning teams and good citizens.”
Mainieri was honored in 2005 with a 25-year coaching certificate at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention and was voted to the position of the ABCA’s chair of the Division I Baseball Coaches. He is also a member of the ABCA executive committee.
Mainieri established in 2002 the Opening Night Dinner at Notre Dame, and the event has featured an impressive lineup of keynote speakers: Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry, award-winning author and lifelong baseball fan John Grisham, legendary baseball pitcher Roger Clemens and Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis. The 2005 and ’06 preseason dinners each were advanced sellouts, with nearly 1,800 fans packing the Joyce Center Fieldhouse .
A former Chicago White Sox farmhand, Mainieri was the first civilian baseball coach at Air Force and averaged 26 wins in six seasons (’89-’94) for a program that averaged just 15 wins in the six previous years. He is the only Air Force baseball coach to post six straight 20-win seasons and his 1994 squad led the nation in hitting (.360), slugging (.623) and triples (0.76 per game).
Mainieri guided the 1993 Air Force team to its first winning season in nearly a decade (28-22), with a school-record 21 wins at home. He coached three All-Americans, two Freshman All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans with the Falcons.
Mainieri coached six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) University where – in 1983 at the age of 24 – he took over a program that had yet to post a winning season. Mainieri led St. Thomas to four seasons that ended with the team ranked in the final NCAA Division II poll. The 1984 Sunshine State Conference coach of the year saw his St. Thomas teams average 30 wins per season (after an average of just 18 wins in the six previous years).
Fifteen of Mainieri’s St. Thomas players entered pro baseball, with Joe Klink, Dane Johnson (Chicago White Sox, ’94) and Dan Rohrmeier (Seattle Mariners, ’97) each going on to appear on Major League rosters. Klink played with the 1987 Minnesota Twins and ’89 Oakland A’s World Series championship teams while also pitching with the Florida Marlins in ’94.
Mainieri’s coaching career began at his alma mater, Columbus High School in Miami, where he served as assistant baseball and football coach for three years before taking over at St. Thomas in the fall of 1982. He also spent the final three years at St. Thomas as director of athletics.
A four-year letterwinner in college, Mainieri played one season at LSU, one for his father at Miami-Dade and two at the University of New Orleans. The second baseman helped the Privateers win two Sun Belt Conference titles and advance to the 1979 NCAA tournament during his senior season.
After completing his undergraduate degree requirements at Florida International (’80), Mainieri played two minor-league seasons before earning a master’s in sports administration from St. Thomas in 1982.
Born Aug. 29, 1957, in Morgantown, W.Va., Mainieri and wife Karen have four children: Nicholas (22) – a senior student assistant coach on the 2006 Irish squad – Alexandra (21, who will be a senior at Ball State in 2006-07), Samantha (19, who has been accepted at Notre Dame for her sophomore year in ’06-’07) and Notre Dame’s spirited batboy Thomas (11, born two days before Mainieri accepted the position at Notre Dame).
“We will play our final season in historic Alex Box Stadium next year,” Bertman said, “and we will move into a new Alex Box Stadium in 2008. It will take a special person to bridge the great past and the promising future of Tiger Baseball. I am proud to introduce Paul Mainieri as that person to you today.”
LSU BASEBALL PRESS CONFERENCE
JUNE 28, 2006
LSU BASEBALL COACH PAUL MAINIERI
“First of all, I would just like to thank everyone for coming out here today. This is really an amazing phenomenon that people would come out to meet a baseball coach. This doesn’t happen everywhere. I really appreciate that all of you people took time out to come and meet me today. I will make the understatement of the day right out of the gate. Today is a very, very exciting day for me. I have had so many people say to me, today and yesterday, welcome home. That is exactly what it feels like, being back home. This was a family decision. This wasn’t a decision made just by me. I consulted with my wife, with my four children and with my parents. I did not come to this decision quickly or easily as great an opportunity as LSU provides because I have given up the opportunity to continue to work at Notre Dame, which is not something I gave up very lightly. It is a wonderful place. I spent 12 years there. I have many great friends there that I am leaving behind, many great students. It is very difficult to say goodbye to people when you care equally about others, and so this was a long, thought-out process. I have leaned on my family quite extensively to come to this decision. This is a decision Karen (wife) and I have made together, and we are very, very confident that this is the right thing to do.”
“It is so amazing to be standing here and to think that roughly 31 years ago, about 200 yards in that direction, I bumped into this little girl on the sidewalk in front of Broussard Hall. I worked up enough courage to introduce myself and find out her name and see if she wanted to go for a milkshake or something. Here we are 31 years later. We have been married for 26 years. She is my companion. I couldn’t have done this unless she fully supported me on this. I would like to introduce you to my wife Karen. My children played a large part into this decision. My daughter just got accepted into Notre Dame as a sophomore. She is going to be a cheerleader there, so it is a very exciting time in her life. To leave her behind is a pretty dramatic thing for us. I also have an 11-year old son. He can’t wait to put an LSU uniform on and be in that dugout. He’s already wanted me to describe, in detail, the pictures of the new stadium. His older brother, who is a bit older than him, just graduated from Notre Dame. He is going to stay back in South Bend, so there is going to be a separation between my 11-year old son and my 22-year old son. This was a decision that was very difficult to come to. I should also mention that I have another daughter who is attending Ball State University.”
“This decision is not about money. It is about what I want to do. Obviously, when you have other people who depend on you financially, you have to take those factors into consideration. We have figured out ways to take care of that. Let me tell you why I am here, and this is the bottom line. I really wanted a new challenge. I have had some great opportunities in my life. I have been around baseball my whole life. I grew up in the dugout at Miami (Dade) Community College. I had a great opportunity to become the head coach at a little school in Miami called St. Thomas University. I got the job when I was 25 years old. I was making $3,200 a year when I took the job at St. Thomas, and I was the happiest guy in the world because I was a college baseball coach. All I wanted to do was work with young people and be a positive influence in their life like my college coach was for me. Skip introduced Ron Maestri earlier at the University of New Orleans. Ron is like a second father to me. He has been there every step of the way for me. I had an opportunity to move to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. It was a big move as you might imagine from Miami, Fla. to Colorado Springs. I had outstanding young men to deal with. We were limited in somewhat in our ability level. Our success was relative. We had a couple of seasons that we finished .500 and by that measure was really outstanding. Then, 12 years ago, I was invited to come to Notre Dame. That was a great experience for 12 years. The successes were great and wonderful. I enjoyed really working with the young people. Now, I get the opportunity to come to LSU. As I weighed on this decision very strongly, what I kept coming back to was at Notre Dame, it was great. We accomplished great things. We went to the World Series. We had the No. 1-ranked team in the country at one time. We did a lot of great things. Not that I didn’t think that we could continue to do that, but I just wanted a new challenge.”
“I just kind of felt when this opportunity became available, and Skip called me, Karen and I talked about it at length. It just kept coming back to me that it is a new challenge. It is something that I hadn’t had the opportunity to do was have the resources and all the pieces in place to become the top team in the country. Make no mistake about it. That is the goal. The goal is to return LSU to the pinnacle position in college baseball. If we don’t do it, it is not going to be because of lack of effort, I can assure you. I have all the confidence in the world that we can do that here. Yesterday, we were walking around and we went into the football building and met the trainers and met the strength coaches and equipment managers. Then we came over here and met all of the administrators. It is amazing to me the support level that is given to the coaches here. I am sure Les (Miles) and John (Brady) and Pokey (Chatman) say the same thing. There are no excuses. You have what you need to win. Now it is my responsibility to go out there and find the young men that we can win with. I can’t wait to go into a living room and talk to people about coming to LSU and our new facility and joining the great tradition and history.”
“Another thing that appeals to me was coming to a place that has such great winning tradition because of this young man standing behind me. I told Skip when he called me two weeks ago that I was very interested. Because of the buyout, I told him not eliminate me because of financial reasons. There is maybe something that I can work out. I knew there were some other coaches that had some pedigree with LSU that were great coaches. I told Skip to go after those guys and see what they wanted to do. If it doesn’t feel right, give me a call back. You know where I am. This past Friday, he called me back again. He really talked intensely and seriously about this possibility. He gave me a lot to think about. Let’s face it, the Skip Bertman shadow is huge. I realize what I am getting into. A lot of people might be afraid of that. I am going to stand here and tell you that I am not afraid of that. I embrace it. I am glad that it is here. I am glad that Skip had the success he had at LSU. That is why LSU is special. That is why there is a press conference to announce the new baseball coach. I am not afraid. I know there are people out there that I will never be able to satisfy. They are going to expect the Tigers to win every game and shut everybody out. I know that, but we are going to get the job done here. I am excited about it, and I embrace the Skip Bertman legacy. One of the first things I said to Skip was I wanted to have a person on my staff that played for him. I want a tie to his era, so he recommended Blair Barbier. Blair Barbier will be a member of our coaching staff at LSU, and I am excited about that.”
“I mentioned like I felt like I was coming home. I spent one very special year here at LSU. I loved LSU. I loved every second of it. You may ask why did you leave? I left because my family was so important to me. My dad is my idol. He is my mentor, and Skip knows that. My dad was the coach at Miami (Dade) for 30 years. If I didn’t transfer and go back to play for him as a sophomore, then the opportunity to play for him would be gone forever. I just couldn’t let that opportunity pass, so I gave up a scholarship to LSU. I lettered as a freshman. I probably would have moved into the starting shortstop job the following year. I knew I was giving up a lot by leaving LSU at that time. Coming back to LSU really feels like I am coming home. It just feels so proud to be back at LSU. I promise all of the LSU fans, to Skip and the Board (of Supervisors), anyone that follows LSU Athletics or baseball, that I promise to give you everything I got. We will do things the right way within the rules with high ethics and high values. I am going to be demanding of the players. I can promise you that. If they want to play for me, they are going to have to play the game the right way. They are going to have to play hard and play with confidence. It is a place where players can get better, where they can go and play at the next level when they get done here. It is going to be a program where we are going to win and do it the right way with class. The kids are going to go to school, get an education and hopefully graduate. They are also going to get out in the community to do things to make this a better place, Baton Rouge, La.”
LSU CHANCELLOR SEAN O’KEEFE
“We are in, by anybody’s standards, the golden age of LSU athletics. This is a phenomenal time to be associated with this university, and I am most fortunate to have inherited well in the year and a half that I’ve been here. This is a lot of ground work and an awful lot of effort that’s gone into really bringing the athletic program to the standard that we see today and the extraordinary achievements that we see today. In every sport and every activity that we’re engaged in, we are very very competitive. The issue that we’re constantly wrestling with is being competitive and meeting expectations. We would all hope to see great accomplishments in each of the athletic programs that are there.”
“In addition to those achievements on the field or on the court or in the other venues of athletic prowess, there are also extraordinary students who are coming to our university with great qualifications. As a consequence, it is no accident that we’ve been designated, I think, and recognized as an extraordinary university for student-athlete performance on the field, on the courts and other venues, as well as the classrooms. It’s amazing. So, we’re very very selective in the manner in which we seek the opportunities to recruit coaches and those who will lead those student-athletes and emphasize all parts of that equation.”
“I’m very, very impressed with the caliber of the coaching staff that is very ably led by Skip Bertman‘s concentration and attention to detail on all dimensions of what the student-athlete performance requires. Skip is extremely good at that and has done an amazing job in the course of his tenure in really instilling that ethic as part of the athletic department overall. Every single coach manifests exactly the same attitude, and I could not be more proud about them for that concentration that each of them exhibits to really worry about their student-athletes as well as focus on those opportunities. It’s come a long way. All of the different programs have really come a considerable distance. Expectations have changed a lot during the course of the time Skip Bertman has led that program (baseball) very specifically and the athletic programs across the board, as well as performance has changed.”
“Today, I think, we’re adding yet another exemplary coach to this pantheon of really extraordinary leaders who focus on student-athlete performance, who help them attain every element of what they’re capable of doing and achieving in every one of the sports as well as in the classroom, and doing so in a way that also meets the expectations that all of us would like to see that every program have an opportunity to be winners. We’re adding another great leader to that group of folks who share that ethic and share that view. All of which is led by the gentleman I’m about to introduce, the athletic director Skip Bertman. Thank you all very much for coming.”
LSU ATHLETICS DIRECTOR SKIP BERTMAN
“I am pleased to introduce a new era of Tiger baseball, which as you know is near and dear to me. When I began the LSU search, it was clear that LSU needed a very unique individual. It would take someone really special to lead this program. It would take somebody who would demand excellence both in athletics and, of course, academics, someone who would represent LSU with dignity and class, someone who would thrive on the high expectations of the baseball program and somebody that will cater to our fan base, which is the No. 1 fan base in the United States of America, like football coaches, basketball coaches and other coaches do here. That was important to me.”
“I believe LSU has found that man in Paul Mainieri. People would say, ?well how do you know those things.’ Homer Rice, the great AD and former football coach, said that every AD has to keep a list right in the drawer of the top coaches. Of course I had that list. Paul Mainieri was always at the top of that list. When I began the search, the calls that were made went out to Paul and at the same time they went out to other candidates on the list. There were six. The head hunter firm replied that all six of them would listen to me, so I would call ADs for permission. I did speak to the ADs, and the ADs ran back and some of the candidates decided to stay.
“But I promise you the job was never offered to anyone until last night. That’s the truth. I just don’t believe that a job of this magnitude can be offered over the telephone. I think you have to be here, you see, to take the job when it’s this high. You have to meet the people and see the facilities. I wanted to meet some goals and handle this and interview some of the best coaches in America and still get ready to go for July 1, which is the deadline that says you can call next year’s rising seniors who are baseball candidates. All those goals were met.”
“I’ve known Paul for over 30 years. I knew his father (Demie Mainieri) very well ? one of the great Junior College coaches at Miami-Dade (Junior College) North. I know about Paul’s strong baseball pedigree, and naturally that’s good. He had additional things. He has Louisiana roots, he played here at LSU and met his wife, a cheerleader, here at LSU. He understands people very well and appreciates the nuances of culture here in South Louisiana. He and his wife, Karen, are both thrilled to be returning to Louisiana. He is a man of values that places a high priority on academic success, and of course has high expectations of players both on and off the field. (He) represents God, family and then the school.”
“He does it with great decorum. As a matter of fact, he’s 71 for 71 at Notre Dame. In 12 years, all players that have exhausted eligibility have graduated. At Notre Dame, he achieved some things that were never before accomplished at South Bend. The program was built on a fan base very similar to what was done here. He had some, obviously, strong obstacles with one being the weather and the strong football format. He had, naturally, high academic standards, which are similar around the country. But what is not similar are the 11.7 baseball scholarships. The cost at Notre Dame is over $43,000. If you offer a kid a 10 percent scholarship and you give him $4,300, obviously he’s got to pay all the rest. You can give him a 50 percent scholarship and he’s still got a lot to pay. At LSU, the cost is a little over $14,000. Those people who coach (baseball) at private schools have it a lot tougher from football or basketball coaches who have full scholarships.”
“In addition to that, he just continued to win. He won the Big East all the time ? eight years in a row. Five years in a row he won the Big East and nine years in a row he actually went to the regionals. Then as athletes become, as they usually do, the better baseball players go South. That’s why you rarely see a team not from a Sun Belt state, with due respect to this year, win the national championship. So, you run out of talent. Paul welcomes that challenge to go after the best athletes, to remain high academic standards, to make sure that the core values that we all hold near and dear are as they should be, and at the same time make sure that we compete at the very highest level.”
“One thing that’ll always be sure for our fans is that the Tigers play for a coach that’ll bring out the best and will search for excellence. He will make them sound players, create winning teams and, obviously, produce good citizens. We’ll play our final season in historic Alex Box (Stadium) this coming year, and we’ll move into new Alex Box Stadium in 2008. It’ll take a special person to address that new era, and I think we have that young man. He’s shown a lot of courage. He’s shown a lot of confidence. He’s held himself with dignity and class in the two days ? day and a half ? that we’ve been together. We’ve gotten to know his wonderful wife and family and realize what a good guy he is. I’m proud to introduce this person to you today. The 25th baseball coach in the history of LSU ? Paul Mainieri.”
The Paul Mainieri File
Career Record: 864-492-4 (.637, 24 seasons)
At Notre Dame: 533-213-3 (.714, 12 seasons)
At Air Force: 152-158 (.490, six seasons)
At St. Thomas: 179-121-1 (.598, six seasons)
Birthdate: Aug. 29, 1957
Hometown: Miami, Florida
1980 – B.S. in physical education from Florida International University
1982 – M.S. in sports administration from St. Thomas (Fla.) Univ.
Married to the former Karen Fejes of New Orleans, La.
Children: Nicholas (22), Alexandra (21), Samantha (19) and Thomas (11)
ABCA Mideast Region Coach of the Year – 2001, 2002
Big East Coach of the Year – 2001
College Baseball Insider National Coach of the Year – 2000
Mainieri’s Coaching Record
Ranked top 10 Div. II, set school record for wins, Sunshine State Conference Coach of Year
Ranked top 10 Division II
Ranked top 10 Div. II, led nation with .340 team batting avg.
Ranked top 10 Division II
Winningest coach in St. Thomas history
Set school records for Western Athletic Conference wins (13)
Team led nation in triples, second-most wins in team history, best AFA record since ’82
Team led nation with .360 batting average
Second-winningest coach in Air Force history
Midwestern Collegiate Conf. Western Div. champs, most wins by first-year ND coach
Participated in NCAA South I Regional ( Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
BIG EAST National Division champions, top winning percentage (15-6) in Big East
Notre Dame’s 10th straight 40-win season; Irish finish 12th in nation for team ERA
National Coach of the Year (CBI); BIG EAST regular-season champ (20-5); NCAA host
Reached title game of NCAA Starkville Regional; fourth-most wins in school history
Big East/Midwest Region Coach of the Year; #1 ranking; Big East champs; NCAA host
Mideast Region Coach of the Year; Big East champs; College World Series participant
First Big East Tournament repeat champion since 1986; NCAA Regional participant
First team to win three straight BIG EAST Tournament titles; NCAA Regional participant; school-record win total for 3rd time in 4 years
Extended unprecedented run of Big East Tournament titles to 4; NCAA Regional finalist
Extended unprecedented run of Big East Tournament titles to 5; NCAA Regional participant; Big East reg.-season champs; set ND record with 23-game win streak (nation’s longest in ’06)
Has seen 49 of his ND players be drafted or sign professional free-agent contracts
The Mainieri Era at Notre Dame (1995-2006)
By The Numbers
3,507 – Record-setting attendance at Eck Stadium for April 21, 2006, game vs. Rutgers
2,514 – Record-setting Eck Stadium season avg. attendance in 2006
.740 – Win pct. in BIG EAST games (192-67-2)
533 – Total victories
231 – ND-record scoring streak (’99-’02)
215 – Recent scoring streak (’02-’06)
100% – Team graduation rate (among four-year players; 71-of-71)
73 – Record-setting 1997 home run total
51 – Record-setting 2004 victory total
47 – Players who have moved on to pro ball (as of June 25, 2006)
44 – Average victories per season
36 – Players selected in the MLB draft
36 – Different home states of ND players in his 12 seasons
25-1 – NCAA win over South Alabama (’02)
24 – Players with 3.0+ GPA (spring ’06)
24 – Players drafted who were not drafted out of high school
22-4 – Record-setting BIG EAST mark in ’01
21 – Players with 3.0+ GPA (fall ’05)
18 – Consecutive BIG EAST wins (’01)
18 – Players drafted in first 10 rounds
14 – All-America seasons
10 – Academic All-America seasons
10 – Consecutive 40-win seasons (16 straight for program; ’89-’04, plus ’06)
9 – NCAA Tournament appearances (’96; ’99-’05)
8 – Consecutive NCAA trips (one of 10 teams in NCAAs every year since ’99)
6 – Consecutive trips to the NCAA regional finals (’00-’05)
5 – Annual Opening Night Dinners (since ’02), featuring pre-sellout crowds of nearly 1,800 and keynote speakers such as Tommy Lasorda, John Grisham and Roger Clemens
5 – Consecutive Big East Tournament titles (’02-’06)
5 – Consecutive preseason top-20 rankings (’01-’05)
4 – Seasons with 20-plus Big Easrt wins (no other school has won more than 18)
4 – NCAA Regionals at Eck Stadium
3.28 – Team in-season GPA during the 2006 spring semester
3 – Former Notre Dame assistants who now are D-I head coaches
2 – First-round draft picks
1 – #1 Recruit class ranking (’02 season)
1 – College World Series team (’02)
1 – #1 National ranking in 2001 season
1 – First team to receive the Notre Dame athletic department’s award for community service excellence (in 2006)
Paul Mainieri grew up around the game of baseball on a daily basis and, as the son of a Hall of Fame coach, had the good fortune to be exposed to several outstanding coaches.
Mainieri cites three primary influences in his development as a coach, headed by his father Demie Mainieri, who coached Miami-Dade North Community College to 1,018 wins and a national title in his 30-year career.
“My father laid the foundation for identifying the correct reasons to enter into the coaching profession,” says Mainieri.
“Despite his success that he may have encountered, my father emphasized to me that a coach was a teacher first and foremost. Watching how he made such a positive impact on young people’s lives was the greatest factor for me wanting to follow in his footsteps.”
Mainieri spent his final two seasons as an infielder at the University of New Orleans, where he had the good fortune of playing for UNO athletic director Ron Maestri. “Coach Maestri showed me how a high intensity level and work ethic can translate into success,” recalls Mainieri, whose 2002 squad opened at the Ron Maestri/UNO Classic.
“He used to do the little things-like drag the field and go into the community to raise support – and his charisma resulted in the construction of a beautiful ballpark for our team,” says Mainieri.
“He pushed his team hard but would do anything for his players, and his players were very loyal to him. Coach Maestri also relayed to me the importance of recruiting the best athletes – meaning shortstops – and we had six or seven high school shortstops in our everyday lineup.”
During his early days in coaching, Mainieri had the chance to meet former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and has maintained a friendship with one of the game’s greatest ambassadors.
“Tommy has advised me in so many areas, it’s hard to specify any areas of emphasis,” says Mainieri of Lasorda, who spoke at the Notre Dame pep rally prior to the 2001 Tennessee football game and served as the keynote speaker at the Notre Dame baseball team’s “Opening Night Dinner” on Feb. 18, 2002. “I think from him I really realized how important it is to bring joy to the ballpark every day. The players definitely follow your lead as the coach and the enthusiasm you show for your job will rub off on them.”
Mainieri readily credits his success to the guidance of those three Hall of Famers. “To this day, I still regularly call each of these men to ask for their advice,” he says. “I think it’s safe to say I’ve learned from the best!”
What They’ve Said About Paul Mainieri
“Notre Dame has become one of the top five programs in the country and it’s almost hard to believe what the Irish have accomplished over the past 10 years. The players who go there get better, on the field and off the field, and there’s not a finer molder of young men than Paul Mainieri. He’s one of the ultimate winners in college baseball.”
– Jim Hendry (Chicago Cubs General Manager)
“Coach Mainieri knows the game but he knows his players even better. He knows how to manage players extremely well – knowing who he has to push harder and who he needs to give space, always getting the best out of his players. His door was always open and he was willing to listen to whatever was on your mind – all while treating everyone with the respect they deserved and caring about the person and his life, not just the player.”
– Aaron Heilman (member of New York Mets; Notre Dame pitcher, `98-’01)
“Coach Mainieri is the most influential coach I’ve played for and the compassion he has for players helps instill a desire to play the game. He truly motivates you to want to go out there and play your best every day. I also can say that everything he told me when he was recruiting me as a high school player was 100-percent true. He was honest and genuine in every way. As much as he is kind and compassionate off the field, on the field he’s an intense competitor who hates to lose. And he has the deep respect of his players because they know how much he cares.”
– Steve Stanley (former member of Oakland A’s organization; Notre Dame centerfielder, `99-’02)