Steve Hertz (10-3-50), the dean of West Coast Conference baseball coaches, enters his 24th season as the head coach of the Gonzaga University baseball program looking to continue the recent success of Bulldogs baseball teams that have challenged for their WCC Division title in each of the past four seasons. Hertz, a Gonzaga alumnus (1972), is optimistic about the chances of taking his alma mater back to the postseason for the first time since 1981.
The winningest coach in Bulldog history, Hertz's squads have posted a 611-602-5 record in his previous 23 seasons with the Zags. His career record of 670-664-5, which includes two seasons at the University of California-Irvine, ranks him in the top 50 among active coaches in career victories.
Hertz's dedication to Gonzaga University's academic mission and athletic excellence goes back to the 1970 season when he began his first of three seasons as a pitcher for Larry Koentopp's squad. Overall, Hertz is in his 29th season associated with Bulldog baseball.
Under his guidance, Gonzaga baseball teams have competed in three different conferences and sent more than 30 players into professional baseball. The Bulldogs are currently preparing for their eighth season as members of the West Coast Conference, coming off their fourth straight run at a WCC Division championship. Last season Gonzaga set several school and WCC records as the Bulldogs entered the final weekend with a chance to win the WCC Coast Division title. The Bulldogs hit a record 92 homeruns led by first-team All-American Nate Gold's 33 homeruns. Gonzaga finished seventh in the nation in homeruns and led the WCC with a .966 fielding percentage.
In 1999, Hertz helped Gonzaga to a second place finish in the Coast Division of the WCC ending the season with a 14-14 conference mark and smashing several school records along the way. The 2000 season produced more of the same success as Gonzaga once again finished second in the Coast Division with a 17-13 conference mark, the pitching staff setting a school record for strikeouts in a season with 412.
In 2001 Gonzaga was finally able to break out of second place, winning the WCC Coast Coast Division title with a 17-13 record. GU advanced to its first postseason appearance since making the NCAA Tournament in 1981. The Zags won the opening game against Pepperdine with a dramatic six-run ninth inning comeback. Unfortunately the team could not use that momentum dropping the final two games to the Waves and missing a chance at the school's first NCAA appearance in 20 years. Gonzaga's season was highlighted by one All-America selection and seven players making the All-West Coast Conference team. Hertz was honored as the WCC Coach of the Year, making him the first non-California school coach to win the award.
Prior to joining the West Coast Conference in 1996, Hertz guided the Bulldogs through 14 seasons as a member of the Pacific-10 Conference North. In those 14 seasons Hertz's teams compiled 30 or more wins in three seasons and twice finished second in the Pac-10 North race. In 1986, the Zags grabbed the runner-up spot and in 1989 Gonzaga led the conference race going into the final weekend before finishing second. The 1994 season witnessed the biggest turnaround in Gonzaga baseball history. The Bulldogs improved from 17 wins in 1993 to 29 wins in the 1994 season. For the efforts of his team, Hertz was named the Pac-10 North Coach of the Year.
Winning Coach of the Year honors is nothing new for Hertz, who has now compiled five such honors in his 24-year coaching career. In fact in a four year span Hertz won three of those awards, two as the head coach of the Bulldogs in their final seasons as a member of the Northern Pacific Conference (NorPac). Hertz's first such honor was bestowed upon him in 1978 following his rookie season as coach of the Bulldogs. Hertz guided Gonzaga to a 33-14 record and their best-ever run in the NCAA tournament. Gonzaga came just one win away from earning a trip to the College World Series. Having advanced into the Regional Finals with wins over Washington State University and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the Bulldogs needed to defeat Arizona State University just once in two games to punch their ticket to the CWS. However, all-conference shortstop Bill Hainline twisted an ankle the day prior to the ASU game and was forced to watch from the dugout as Gonzaga dropped a pair of games.
Hertz left Gonzaga after the 1978 season to rebuild the UC-Irvine program. In two years he took the Anteaters from 22-37 to 37-25 and a second place finish behind eventual national champion Fullerton State University (now Cal State Fullerton) in the Southern California Baseball Association. Again, Hertz was rewarded with the league's Coach of the Year award.
In 1981, Hertz returned to Gonzaga and guided the Bulldogs to their most successful season in school history. That year Gonzaga posted a 48-21 record and advanced to the NCAA Regionals in the final season of the NorPac. Hertz was named Coach of the Year as the 48 wins were the most ever by a team from the Pacific Northwest.
A native of Southern California, Hertz grew up on the outskirts of Los Angeles playing his high school baseball at Taft High School. A standout third baseman in high school, Hertz began his collegiate career at Pierce College in Los Angeles where he was behind future Major League All-Star Doug DeCinces. Hertz decided to try his hand at pitching and posted a 3-2 record his freshman season at Pierce College. He transferred to Gonzaga as a sophomore and finished his 3-year Bulldog career with a 19-8 record being named All-Big Sky Conference as a senior in 1972. Hertz still remains in the Bulldog pitching record book ranking in the career top 10 in wins (19), strikeouts (226) and shutouts (7).
Hertz signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Twins in 1972 and played three seasons of professional baseball, his first season for Charlotte, NC., in the Western Carolina League, his second season with Ft. Lauderdale in the Florida State League and his final season with Lynchburg, VA., in the Carolina League.
Following his professional career, Hertz began his coaching career at Cal Prep High School in Los Angeles in 1974. He entered the collegiate coaching ranks in 1976 as an assistant coach at Gonzaga under Koentopp. Following Koentopp's resignation at the end of the 1977 season, Hertz was named the head coach of the Bulldogs and has never looked back.
Hertz and his wife Vicki have six children - five daughters: Sarah (9-26-76), Christine (9-27-78), Heather (12-8-80), Gretchen (12-10-82) and Jessica (4-9-85), and son Stephen (3-21-91).
STEVE HERTZ'S QUICK BIO
Birthdate: October 3, 1950
Birthplace: Glendale, California
High School: Taft High School
College: Gonzaga University, 1972
Degree: B.A. / History
1974-1975: Head Coach, Cal Prep High School
1976-1977: Assistant Coach, Gonzaga University
1978: Head Coach, Gonzaga University
1979-1980: Head Coach, University of California-Irvine
1981-present: Head Coach, Gonzaga University
Career Record: 670-664-5 (25 years)
Gonzaga Record: 611-602-5 (23 years)
1969: Los Angeles Pierce Community College
1970-1972: Gonzaga University
1972: Drafted by Minnesota Twins
1972-1974: Minor League Baseball
Charlotte (Western Carolina League)
Ft. Lauderdale (Florida State League)
Lynchburg (Carolina League)
Year School Record Conf. Rec. Conf. Fin. Other 1978 Gonzaga University 33-14 18-6 1st NorPac NCAA Regional 1979 UC Irvine 22-37 9-19 7th SCBA 1980 UC Irvine 37-25 19-9 2nd SCBA 1981 Gonzaga University 48-21 25-7 1st NorPac NCAA Regional 1982 Gonzaga University 30-28 10-14 5th Pac-10 North 1983 Gonzaga University 17-34 6-18 7th Pac-10 North 1984 Gonzaga University 23-29-1 11-13 6th Pac-10 North 1985 Gonzaga University 26-23-1 11-13 5th Pac-10 North 1986 Gonzaga University 30-21 13-10 2nd Pac-10 North 1987 Gonzaga University 20-32 8-16 6th Pac-10 North 1988 Gonzaga University 28-28 12-11 4th Pac-10 North 1989 Gonzaga University 27-19 15-9 2nd Pac-10 North 1990 Gonzaga University 37-21 13-11 4th Pac-10 North 1991 Gonzaga University 23-25 8-12 4th Pac-10 North 1992 Gonzaga University 22-30 14-16 5th Pac-10 North 1993 Gonzaga University 17-36 9-21 5th Pac-10 North 1994 Gonzaga University 29-23 14-16 5th Pac-10 North 1995 Gonzaga University 29-25 15-15 3rd Pac-10 North 1996 Gonzaga University 21-28 9-18 6th WCC 1997 Gonzaga University 19-33-1 7-21 8th WCC 1998 Gonzaga University 16-34 10-20 6th WCC 1999 Gonzaga University 27-23-2 14-14 2nd WCC (Coast) 2000 Gonzaga University 28-25 17-13 2nd WCC (Coast) 2001 Gonzaga University 28-27 17-13 1st WCC (Coast) 2002 Gonzaga University 27-29 14-16 4th WCC (Coast)