By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
John McCormack, the new Florida Atlantic University baseball head coach, recently took time to do an interview with The Capital Sports Report. His Q A feature is about his playing and coaching career.
The Capital Sports Report: What was it like playing baseball at Pope John Paul II High School?
John McCormack: “It was very good I had a chance to play with guys that I had played with throughout my childhood, especially in senior Little League, so it was fun because you knew the guys. Secondly, the school wasn’t that big so you knew everyone and were friends and you also played football with them. I played for Coach Green my first three years and Coach Tim Kerber my final year. Coach Green was a good coach and Tim was a great coach and a great guy. He took baseball beyond running the bases, hitting and throwing. He shared life experiences with you and taught me that baseball was more of a thinking game than a physical game, at times. Overall, it was a great experience and being in Boca Raton you played against Boca High, Spanish River, and Atlantic, against guys you had played against or were teammates in Legion.”
TCSR: Could you talk about why you choose to go to Indian River Community College?
JM: “I chose to go to Indian River because of Mike Easom. He is a fabulous baseball coach. I had a chance to speak with him about his program and thought that it would be a good place for me to be. Academically, it gave me a good foundation for Lynn University. Baseball at Indian River was a great education. Coach Easom ran a little more pro-style set-up. You swung the bat, you hit the ball and played defense. I call it regular baseball. You learned a lot. He was a very good hitting coach. He provided a lot of information for that particular game day and it is a lot of information that I still use today.”
TCSR: What was it like playing baseball there at Indian River Community College?
JM: “I liked playing baseball at Indian River because we were good and we won. Everyone knew we were good and had a family atmosphere. You lived in the dorms, played ball with them, went to dinner with them and had a great experience.”
TCSR: Could you talk about why you choose to go to Lynn University?
JM: “I chose to go to Lynn University because Jim Lyttle was the coach. Jim was my legion coach a number of years earlier. After I made the decision to retire and his assistant, Joe DeBidetto, took over. I knew him as well and felt comfortable.”
TCSR: What did it mean to you to be an All-Conference player junior and senior year?
JM: “Anytime you receive those type of awards it is because you played on a good team. Other coaches in the league recognized how good you were. It doesn’t give you more wins. It doesn’t help the team win, but you can look back at it at this point and say that was nice thing to get. At the time you are more concerned about wins and losses.”
TCSR: What did it mean to you to be an All-Area Team MVP junior year?
JM: “That was special because the team and coaches vote on it. It said to me that the team and coaches respected what I brought to the field everyday. It pales to winning as a team.”
TCSR: In college, you played both catcher and third base. What position is your favorite?
JM: “I would say catching. I really enjoyed it. You are in the game every pitch in the game goes through you. You are the field general. You make the calls on pitching and on bunt defenses so you are never out of the loop so to speak. I also found that I was a better hitter when I caught than when I played any other position. Maybe it was because I was in the game more or had a better feel for how the umpires were calling the game. I’m also a social guy. You got to talk to the umpire, the players coming up, the pitchers as a catcher. Playing third and short was good, but catching was my favorite.”
TCSR: With Florida Atlantic, you were the recruiting coordinator and associate head coach/recruiting coordinator. What is the hardest part about being a recruiting coordinator?
JM: “The hardest part about being the recruiting coordinator is organization, making sure you are at the right place at the right time and on the right player. When you make an offer to the “right player” you have to make sure it is the right amount of money and that you get the player. It is like being a GM of a big league club. You have a budget and you have to work with it both on the recruiting side and the scholarship side. Then you have to sit down and put a team together. You assess your needs and then your job is to find, recruit, build a relationship, get them to say yes and finally get their name on a letter of intent. It’s not a hard job, but it is time-consuming. You have to be able to shift and change and make moves in terms of players.”
TCSR: You have had 73 players go on to become professional athletes, including 7 All-Americans, in your 18-years at the school. What does that mean to you?
JM: “The professional side of it is that a lot of those guys were not high profile. It speaks to two things. One we were able to see something in them that no one else saw. The second is that we were able to make them better while they were at FAU. The guys who go on to pro ball is nice because it makes the program look good from top to bottom, the coaches the strength staff, and all those that support the players while they are here. The All-Americans is the same thing. Individual accolades are great and it is nice that people have recognized what they have done, but it is about the wins and losses for the players and the school.”
TCSR: Could you talk about Florida Atlantic’s 2002 Regional Tournament title?
JM: “It is the high point of the program at this point. It was an unbelievable year and probably the best team I have been around in terms of players and wanting to win and pulling for each other. They were an unbelievable group of guys. Everyone knew their role. The tournament title meant everything for us. We had knocked on the door several times especially in 1999 when we won 56 games. The players on that team will never be forgotten.”
TCSR: Could you talk about Florida Atlantic’s Super Regional appearance?
JM: “It was way too short. The nicest thing about it was the week leading up to it. It gave us time to talk to recruits and relish the accomplishments leading up to it. You are one of 16 teams in the country still playing. I wish we had played better.”
TCSR: What does it mean to you to have 4 former FAU baseball players to make it to the major leagues?
JM: “It has been fabulous. To be able to see them accomplish their goal and to know that the reason they were able to reach their goals was because Florida Atlantic has been nice. All four have been good about giving back to the program both in time and energy. You can also hang your hat on the fact that the program has arrived. We are recruiting the caliber of player that can get to the big leagues and secondly, we are coaching them up to help them get to the big leagues.”
TCSR: What does it mean to you to be FAU’s baseball head coach?
JM: “It is a big honor. Baseball has been played at FAU for 28 years and in that time, I’m just the third head coach. I have a lot to live up to. FAU has had a lot of stability in its coaching staff which is nice. I think what Coach (Steve) Traylor and what Coach Kevin Cooney did, while I was on staff, was tremendous. Traylor began the program and moved from NAIA to NCAA Division II. Cooney took over a winning program, continued that success and moved to Division I. At every level this program has been successful. I am honored to be the head coach at Florida Atlantic University, a program that has been in Regional Finals and an NCAA Super Regional. It makes me proud that I can now continue a legacy that I helped to start and I know I have a lot to live up to. The two gentlemen that came before me were great baseball coaches and really good people. They have shaped a program that is much more than the wins and losses. I appreciate the charge that the President (Frank T. Brogan) and the Athletics Director (Craig Angelos) have given me and accept it.”
TCSR: What are your future goals with the program?
JM: “Our future plans are to go to Omaha (Nebraska and the College World Series). End of story”