HOUSTON — Houston Baptist University (HBU) announced former major league player Lance Berkman as the next head coach of its baseball program on Monday in a morning press conference.
In introducing Berkman, HBU Director of Athletics Steve Moniaci started, “We really do think that with this hire, we have elevated not just the baseball program but the whole athletic department, quite frankly.”
“This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Even before I retired from playing baseball I knew that I wanted to coach,” Berkman said of wanting to coach Division I college baseball. “It’s really the last, highest level where guys play for the name on the front of the jersey not the name on the back.”
Berkman has done his research, and he has developed his coaching acumen having coached at the high school level and this past season as an assistant with the University of St. Thomas baseball program, which was in its first full season as a program, after having their inaugural season shortened because of
Covid-19 in 2020.
Berkman described his journey to this point since he left professional baseball. He inquired with programs about what they look for in hiring a baseball coach. Berkman also went and observed or “audited” coaches at programs such as Vanderbilt, Louisville, TCU, Texas, and Oklahoma State to see how
programs are run and what goes into day-to-day operations, including recruiting.
Recruiting was a topic Berkman addressed Monday as he was talking about the hotbed of local baseball talent, “The baseball talent in this area is off the chart on the amateur side. We have to do a great job of getting our share of the Houston talent.”
Facing the reality of coaching at a mid-major program but also wanting to provide top competition for the kids he plans to recruit, Berkman said, “We want to play those guys. Number one because I want to beat them. But secondly, I want to be able to say ‘hey, we play a legit schedule and if you want to play against top competition, then come to HBU.’”
In closing his remarks and describing his desire to coach and the seriousness with which he is approaching the job, Berkman said, “It’s the right opportunity at the right time, so I’m thrilled.”
Berkman played 15 major league seasons with a .293 career batting average and 366 home runs, and he won a World Series in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Huskies are replacing head coach Jared Moon after 16 seasons with the program. The team was 14-38 in 2021 and 11–27 in the Southland Conference in Moon’s final season before his dismissal.