UNO’s baseball legacy includes players-turned-managers and coaches

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The University of New Orleans has supplied it share of Major League Baseball players.  Yet what may not be as well-known is the school has also been a good source of professional and college baseball managers and coaches, many of them with ties to its long-time head coach, Ron Maestri.

Randy Bush, Roger Erickson, Wally Whitehurst, Ted Wood, Brian Traxler, Joe Slusarski, Jim Bullinger, and most recently Johnny Giavotella are among the UNO baseball alums who reached “The Show” after honing their skills at the Lakefront university. The school has a rich history of baseball which began in 1970 under the leadership of Maestri and includes a College World Series appearance in 1984.

There’s also a fraternity of former UNO players who have extended their careers as field generals and coaches, including jobs at the college, minor-league, and major-league levels.

Braves Manager Brian SnitkerWhen Brian Snitker was named the interim manager of the Atlanta Braves in May 2016, he became the second former UNO player to become a major-league manager, following Mike Quade.  Snitker was named the full-time manager of the Braves in October 2016.

Snitker had previously held several major-league roles with the Braves, including bullpen coach and base coach.  He has been in the Braves organization as a player, coach, and manager since 1977.  He played for UNO in 1976 and 1977.

Quade became interim manager of the Chicago Cubs in August 2010 following Lou Piniella’s sudden retirement.  He was named the permanent manager for the 2011 season, but was let go after only one full season when Theo Epstein came over from Boston as the Cubs president.

After playing for UNO from 1976 to 1979, Quade played in the minors from 1979 to 1983 for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  He then served as a minor league coach and manager before being promoted to the Oakland A’s major-league coaching staff in 2000.  He was a base coach for the Cubs from 2007 until the time he was named Cubs’ interim manager.  Quade is currently the manager of the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.

A former Privateers infielder from 1987-1988, Rouglas Odor is currently the hitting coach for the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.  He has previous experience as a manager in the Indians’ organization.  A native of Venezuela, Odor played in the minors for the Indians and Milwaukee Brewers organizations from 1988 to 1995.  His nephew, Rougned Odor, is currently the outstanding second baseman for the big-league Indians.

Eric Rasmussen was a pitching standout for UNO in 1973, when he won 11 games and posted a 0.90 ERA.  He went on to pitch in the majors from 1975 to 1983 for the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and Kansas City Royals.  He began his career as pitching coach in 1988 in the Cleveland Indians organization and has been in the Minnesota Twins organization since 1991.  He is currently the minor-league pitching coordinator in the Twins organization.

J.P. Martinez is currently the pitching coach for Class A Cedar Rapids in the Twins organization, where he has been a minor-league coach since 2014. He was the ninth-round draft choice of Twins in 2004 and played in the minors from 2004 to 2008. Martinez pitched for UNO in 2003 and 2004, after prepping at Isidore Newman in New Orleans.

While not currently active in professional baseball, there have been other former minor-league coaches who played their college careers for UNO.

Roger Erickson pitched for UNO in 1976 and 1977 and then was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third round of the 1977 MLB Draft.  His best major-league season occurred in his rookie year in 1978 with the Twins, when he posted a 14-11 record that included 14 complete games and 121 strikeouts.  His major-league career ended in 1983 with the New York Yankees.  Erickson served as a coach for Springfield, IL in the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1990 and 1991.

Joe Slusarski posted a 26-7 record for UNO in 1987 and 1988 as they advanced to the NCAA Regionals in both seasons.  He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the second round of the 1988 MLB Draft and then played in seven major-league seasons ending in 2001.  He served as pitching coach for UNO in 2002, followed by minor-league coaching stints in 2003-2006 for the Houston Astros organization.

Wally Whitehurst pitched for UNO from 1983 to 1985 when he won 37 games, most in team history.  He was the third-round selection of the Oakland A’s in 1985 and played in seven major-league seasons for the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, and New York Yankees.  He spent the 1998-2001 seasons as pitching coach for the Privateers, and then served as minor-league pitching coach for several organizations from 2004 to 2011.

Several former UNO players have also excelled at the college level as head coaches.

A former UNO outfielder in 1979, Randy Bush was UNO’s head coach from 2000 to 2005.  His team had a NCAA tournament appearance in 2000.  Bush was the second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins, where he helped them win two World Series championships in 1987 and 1991.  Overall, he played 12 seasons in the majors.  Bush was also a major-league scout for the Chicago Cubs and is currently Assistant GM with them.

Paul Mainieri has been the head coach for LSU since 2007, where his teams have won over 650 games, including a College World Series title in 2009.  Before that, he was head baseball coach at Notre Dame, Air Force, and St. Thomas University.  Mainieri played for UNO from 1978 to 1979, when the team won two Sun Belt Conference titles.

Tim Jamieson was a catcher for UNO from 1978 to 1981, before becoming an assistant coach under Maestri.  His coaching career then led him to the University of Missouri, first as an assistant and then as a head coach fro 1995-2016.

Doug Faust, a former UNO player from 1988-90 who came to the Privateers from Delgado, spent years in the local high school ranks with successful head coaching stops at Archbishop Hannan, De La Salle and Archbishop Shaw. He is now in his fifth season at Loyola.

While playing shortstop for UNO, Augie Schmidt was the 1982 recipient of the Golden Spikes Award, which recognizes the nation’s top amateur player.  He was the MLB Draft’s overall Number 2 selection of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982 and played minor-league ball from 1982 to 1986.  He has been the head coach at Carthage College in Wisconsin since 1988, where his teams have won over 860 games for a .689 winning percentage.

There’s an exciting resurgence of the UNO baseball program going on right now.  As part of that, the university can draw on its legacy of past successful teams, as well as its former players who have made significant impacts in the sport beyond their playing days.

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Richard Cuicchi

Richard Cuicchi

Founder, Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database

A New Orleans area baseball historian, Richard maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Famly Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives.

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