For the first time in 18 years, Cal baseball will have a new head coach and a chance to build on its winning legacy as a baseball program. With this change at the top comes a new coaching staff with impressive credentials.
Serving as Cal’s pitching coach between the years of 2012 to 2015, Mike Neu’s success in lowering the team’s ERA made him a popular candidate for the head coaching position, which opened following veteran coach David Esquer’s decision to return to Stanford. Nue’s strong work ethic, integrity and loyalty to the program are reflected in his decisions to hire Pat Shine, Noah Jackson, and Damon Lessler as assistant coaches.
Shine’s experience coaching at the major league, minor league and collegiate level will strengthen Cal baseball when he returns to the program.
Following his previous position at Cal as a volunteer assistant for Bob Milano in the seasons of 1998 to 1999, Shine established himself as a dominant baseball coach on the West Coast. Shine held positions at UC Irvine, UCLA and New Mexico. At Cal State Los Angeles, he served as the program’s head coach and was named the ABCA West Region Coach of the Year in 2007.
Shine built upon his accolades in the professional baseball world, where he joined the Miami Marlins organization as a video replay coordinator, batting practice pitcher and assistant to head coach Don Mattingly. In the 2017 season, Shine served as manager of the Clinton LumberKings in the Seattle Mariners organization.
Jackson, a former Cal baseball player, enters the ranks of the 2018 coaching staff and will work with outfielders and hitters. Following his career at Cal, Jackson joined the Chicago Cubs organization and later worked as a professional scout for the San Diego Padres.
In 2015, Jackson returned to Cal to serve as volunteer assistant for the Bears. Jackson spent the past two years as an assistant coach at the University of Pacific, where he worked alongside Neu.
In 2003, Jackson established the Bay Area-based First Base Foundation and the California Warriors Baseball Program, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring and financial assistance to young athletes who have ambitions to play baseball at the collegiate and professional levels.
The California Warriors program develops youth talent through access to affordable travel baseball, giving back to the baseball community which supported Jackson in his youth.
Bay Area native Lessler will serve as a volunteer assistant for the 2018 season. Lessler began his coaching career in 2011 following a professional career. Lessler served as an assistant coach at San Jose State in the 2017 season, having held previous assistant coaching positions at Cal Poly, Southern Mississippi, Chico State and Oakland University in Michigan.
The 2018 season will mark a transitional period for the Cal baseball program. While Cal will lose the expertise of Esquer, it will gain the fresh approach of a new coaching staff who is well equipped to lead Cal baseball into a new era of greatness.
Contact Helen Thomas-McLean at [email protected]