By Nate Discavage
[image courtesy of gobonnies.com]
The last time St. Bonaventure University made a baseball coaching change, the Soviet Union was a world power. Four men have sworn the presidential oath since Larry Sudbrook took over for Jim Pransky as the St. Bonaventure baseball coach in 1986.
Over the past 30 seasons, Sudbrook has led St. Bonaventure to a record of 632-664-9 giving him a .488 winning percentage, third among the five Atlantic 10 baseball coaches with at least nine years experience. Under Sudbrook, the Bonnies have made eight Atlantic 10 tournament appearances and won one conference championship in 2004. Since Sudbrook took over as head coach, 10 St. Bonaventure student-athletes have been drafted by Major League Baseball. He currently ranks in the top 100 for most wins by an active coach.
There are students who have never heard of Sudbrook despite his accomplishments on the field.
“I have no idea who our baseball coach is,” sophomore Kristen Caputo said. “I couldn’t tell you anything about him.”
“The guys I know never really talk about the team until this year,” senior Matt Moretti said. “I don’t know the baseball coach’s name.”
While students at St. Bonaventure may not know who Sudbrook is, other baseball coaches in the Atlantic 10 have had an opportunity to see Sudbrook in action.
On April 13, 2013, Sudbrook won the 600th game of his career against Saint Joseph.
“You hate losing, but 600 wins is pretty impressive,” Saint Joseph coach Fritz Hamburg said. “I respect what he has done.”
In his 16 years serving as head coach for the University of Dayton, Tony Vittorio has seen Sudbrook coach the Bonnies from across the diamond.
“From day one, he knows his style of play,” he said. “He is a competitor and instills an ‘us against the world’ mentality.”
That competitive nature, however, has gotten Sudbrook into trouble on the field. He is not afraid to run on to the field and challenge an umpire’s ruling – occasionally leading to an ejection.
“He’s animated and not afraid to tell you if he thinks you are wrong,” John McArdle, an Atlantic 10 umpire since 1983, said. “When he comes out of the dugout, you better rethink your call because he doesn’t nitpick.”
“He isn’t afraid to confront a player and tell them what he thinks of them,” pitching coach and former St. Bonaventure player BJ Salerno said. “He expects a lot out of you.”
After 30 years of coaching, Sudbrook has no intention of stepping down.
“I love that nervous feeling I get in my stomach before every game,” Sudbrook said. “Above all else, I enjoy the players.”
Sudbrook’s one dark spot in his 30-year tenure came in 2007 when he accidentally left a .357 Magnum revolver in his travel bag when boarding a plane to Charlotte for a three-game series with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The felony charges were dropped when Sudbrook agreed to pay a $1000 fine and forfeit the gun. St. Bonaventure University required that Sudbrook reimburse the school for his travel expenses but did not issue a suspension.
As St. Bonaventure continues its 2015 baseball season, the players will look to their coach for guidance.
“I think coach Sudbrook knows what he’s doing out there,” senior St. Bonaventure outfielder Jonathan Diaz said. “He is just so passionate about the sport.”