Mee: Notre Dame star.
Cory Mee went into coaching because he could not imagine a life away from baseball. Yesterday the University of Toledo gave Mee the keys to its program in hopes that the former standout player at Notre Dame can share his enthusiasm for the game and his affinity for winning with the Rockets.
“When my playing days were over, they had to tear the uniform off of me,” the 33-year-old Mee said, “and when they did that, I had to figure out another way to be at the ballpark every day. Coaching gave me that opportunity, and I look forward to the challenges of being a head coach.”
Mee, a native of Hilton, N.Y., was a captain and an Academic All-American at Notre Dame, where he played third base, catcher and second base. He earned a degree in biological sciences, and following graduation Mee signed a professional contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played in the minor leagues for the Yakima Bears of the Northwest League before returning to Notre Dame as a volunteer coach in 1993.
After one year at Rochester Institute of Technology, Mee went back to South Bend and was on the staff of the Irish for five seasons. He has spent the past four years as the top assistant at Michigan State.
“My experiences at Notre Dame and Michigan State really helped me feel like I was ready to move up to a head-coaching position,” Mee said. “The talent level is about the same with most teams, but the difference is in who comes to the ballpark ready to play. We want to be the aggressor and make things happen - not wait for them to happen.
“My goal is to create a program that the players, the university, the alumni and the community can be proud of.”
UT athletic director Mike O'Brien had been looking for a new coach since the spring, when it was announced that the contract of Mike Kruzel, who in his 11 seasons at UT was 259-331, would not be renewed.
“It took some time to get to this point,” O'Brien said as he introduced Mee, “but Cory is a perfect fit for Rocket baseball.”
According to O'Brien, Mee was hired after an extensive search that included involvement of current UT players in helping choose their next leader.
“The one thing the people we talked with were consistent on was that we have hired a teacher, and we have hired a leader,” O'Brien said.
Mee becomes the 11th head coach in the 79-year history of the UT program.
BOWLING GREEN - Three Bowling Green State University players have been named to the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League All-Star Game to be played at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Pitchers Burke Badenhop (Perrysburg) and Neil Schmitz (St. Henry), along with outfielder Jeff Warnock (Cincinnati) were selected.
- MATT MARKEY