It has been a crazy, life-changing couple of weeks for Brian Hamm. After leading Eastern Connecticut State to the NCAA Division III baseball championship and picking up the national coach of the year award, he began interviewing for the job at Yale.
Yale and Hamm made it official Tuesday. He will be the storied program’s new coach, replacing John Stuper.
“I’ve always revered Yale for what their athletics department and university stood for in terms of balancing the overall academic experience and athletic part of that,” Hamm said.
Hamm, a Terryville native, coached at Amherst before moving to Eastern five years ago, where he rebuilt a program that had won four national titles but hadn’t won since 2002. The Warriors went 49-3, finishing with a 23-game winning streak and sweeping through the Little East and NCAA tournaments.
“One of the things I’m really proud of, in terms of leaving Eastern, is I left it better than how I found it,” Hamm said. “What was most difficult to come to terms with, Eastern had become very much a part of my family. Eastern has a way of doing that, because of the quality of people there and the pride people take in the institution. At the same time what attracted me most to Yale was the people and the mission the institution has.”
Hamm remembered going to historic Yale Field to watch the Double-A New Haven Ravens play during the 1990s. He will be the 14th coach in the history of the program, which played its first baseball game in 1865 and reached the College World Series in 1947 and ‘48 with teams captained by President George H.W. Bush. A number of players have made it to the major leagues, including Dick Tettlebach, Ken MacKenzie, Ron Darling, Craig Breslow, Ryan Lavarnway. Stuper, who had been the coach since 1993, retired following last season after the Bulldogs finished 20-18.
“To follow [Stuper] and carry on his legacy through the players we continue to bring in and continue to add to the success his had here is certainly a privilege for me,” Hamm said.
A Branford resident, Hamm’s wife, Maija Cheung, is a surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Hamm’s record at Eastern was 108-30, and at Amherst before that was 221-113. At both his teams won numerous academic awards.
“I am thrilled that Brian Hamm will be leading our storied baseball program. Coming off winning a national title it is clear that he is a proven winner,” Yale athletic director Vicky Chun said in a statement. “What impressed us the most is Brian’s energy, work ethic and passion in giving his student-athletes the very best-in-class experience.”
His associate head coach at ECSU, Chris Wojick, who guided the pitching staff to the best ERA in Division III at both stops, could be a candidate to succeed Hamm at Eastern, where a national search is expected, or a move to a Division I pitching coach’s position, possibly at Yale.
Dom Amore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org