John Savage Named UCLA Head Baseball Coach
July 1, 2004
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - John Savage, perhaps the finest developer of pitchers in college baseball, has been hired as UCLA's new head baseball coach, associate athletic director Ken Weiner announced today. Savage comes to UCLA from UC Irvine, where he compiled a record of 88-84-1 while rebuilding the program, and will be taking over for Gary Adams, who retired at the end of the 2004 season after 30 years as the Bruin head coach.
'I am extremely excited and can't wait to get started,' said Savage. 'I am looking forward to building upon the tradition established by Gary Adams and putting UCLA in a position to contend for national honors year in and year out. Our staff will work extremely hard to recruit the type of players who can put us in position to be a national force on a regular basis.'
'John will do an outstanding job at UCLA,' said associate athletic director Ken Weiner, who has oversight responsibility for baseball and who served as point person during the search process. 'What he accomplished in three years at UC Irvine is phenomenal. He is a great fit for us because his goal is to be nationally competitive every year, he is an outstanding recruiter and teacher and he is familiar with the UC system.''This is an exciting day for the Bruin baseball program,' said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero. 'John is an outstanding coach and a first-class person. During his tenure at UC Irvine, he built the program from the ground up in less than three seasons, placing the program in the national spotlight and elevating his team to a ranking as high as No. 7 (Collegiate Baseball). He is arguably the finest developer of pitchers in the college game and his teams swing the bat well and play fundamentally-sound baseball. We are thrilled to bring him to Westwood.'
Ironically, it was Guerrero, then athletic director at UC Irvine, who hired Savage to relaunch the Anteater baseball program in 2001. Savage spent the 2001 season recruiting and building the foundation for his program that began play in 2002.In that first year, the Anteaters, with a roster comprised of 24 freshmen, compiled a record of 33-26 and the pitching staff set a school record with 487 strikeouts. In 2003, despite injuries to key players, UC Irvine recorded 417 strikeouts and a 3.61 ERA (third in the Big West).
In 2004, Savage led UC Irvine to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament. UCI competed in the regional at Notre Dame and finished the year with a record of 34-23-1. Anteater pitchers recorded 483 strikeouts, four shy of the school record, and compiled an ERA of 3.69 (second in the Big West) while the offensebatted .288 and averaged almost 5.7 runs per game.
Three of his players were chosen in the June 2004 Amatuer Major League Baseball Draft and a total of seven athletes were selected during his three years at UCI.As a head coach, Savage was a perfect 4-0 against UCLA. His Anteaters defeated the Bruins twice in 2002, both times by scores of 6-4, and twice more in 2004 by scores of 6-0 and 7-5. He is 2-0 as a head coach at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium.Prior to taking over the UC Irvine program, Savage served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Southern California from 1996-2000. There he produced numerous successful athletes, including consecutive Pac-10 Pitchers of the Year Seth Etherton and Rik Currier and 2002 American League Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito of the Oakland A's. Also under his tutelage was current Chicago Cubs standout Mark Prior, one of the game's top young pitchers.
Savage was responsible for the Trojans' No. 1 recruiting class (Collegiate Baseball) in 1999-2000 and served as an assistant to Mike Gillespie for the USA Baseball National Team of collegiate all-stars in the summer of 2000. Savage earned Collegiate Baseball's Assistant Coaches of the Year honors in 1998 after his coaching talents helped USC capture the 1998 College World Series championship. He also helped USC to a NCAA Regional title in 1999 and the NCAA Super Regional at Georgia Tech in 2000.
He also demonstrated success at the University of Nevada before moving to Southern California. In his five seasons on that staff, the Wolf Pack compiled an overall record of 177-82, including the school's first back-to-back 35-win seasons. Nevada won the 1994 Big West Conference title and 24 Wolf Pack players signed professional contracts from 1992-96. Savage began his coaching career as the pitching coach for Reno (NV) High School from 1988-90.
Savage, 39, was a sixth-round draft choice of the New York Yankees in 1983 following his senior season at Reno High, but chose to attend Santa Clara University, where he pitched for three seasons. In 1986, the Cincinnati Reds selected Savage in the 16th round. He played two seasons in the Reds' organization, then played for several independent professional teams from 1987-89.
Following his professional career, Savage earned his bachelor's degree in secondary education, with an emphasis in physical education and history, from Nevada in 1991.He and his wife, Lisa, have four children: Julia, Jack, Ryan and Gabrielle.
STATEMENT RELEASED BY NEW UCLA HEAD COACH JOHN SAVAGE
'In coming to UCLA, it is an honor to follow in the footsteps of Gary Adams, who has been the heart and soul of UCLA baseball for nearly three decades.
I look forward to once again working with [Athletic Director] Dan Guerrero, whom I personally consider a driving force in collegiate athletics; his committment for building competitive programs and his dedication to providing the resources to make success possible is unmatched.
The opportunity to coach for a program that epitomizes a balance of traditions, academics and athletic dedication is an honor. To know that this team and I will everyday play on a field named after one of the most influential people in the course of American history, Jackie Robinson, is an honor.'