Back In The Bronco Dugout

By Brandon Rebboah '13

The Santa Clara University baseball program welcomes Mike Crudale as the new undergraduate assistant for the 2011 season. Crudale will assist head Coach Mark O'Brien's coaching staff in preparing the Broncos for their upcoming season. Crudale isn't new to the Mission campus though.

Crudale, who pitched for SCU from 1996 through 1999, was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 24th round after his senior season. The native of Danville, Calif. left for professional baseball just a few quarters short of his degree, allowing him to return this year as an undergraduate assistant while completing the necessary units for his degree.

During his time at SCU Crudale posted solid numbers for the Broncos. During his freshman campaign, Crudale started nine games posting a 6-2 record. The Broncos played in the post-season his freshman and sophomore year. During his junior season he moved from the starting rotation to take over the closer role. He had nine saves that season, one short of the all-time school record to that point.

"I think it is important to give back to the place that gave me the opportunity to play baseball. Without them I never would have played professionally," said Crudale. "This is a great opportunity for me to finish my degree and pass on things I've learned".

After leaving SCU, Crudale made the 40-man roster for the St. Louis Cardinals after his second season in AA. He was designated to AAA briefly, but after an injury to the St. Louis Cardinals' pitching staff he was called back to the majors. In 2002, he pitched 16 innings in AAA and 55 innings in the majors. He made appearances in the National League Championship series pitching against the San Francisco Giants. During the 2002 season he posted a record of 3-0 while pitching 49 appearances in relief. He struck out roughly three batters for every batter he walked during his first year in the majors. An injury in the spring of 2003 resulted in him being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. After his time in Milwaukee, he spent the next few seasons moving around to AAA teams for the Giants, Pirates and White Sox. With all of his professional experience, Crudale then decided to them take his baseball career to Italy.

Last spring, he returned home from Italy and decided to re-enroll at Santa Clara. Enrolled as an undergraduate, he qualified for the NCAA's new "undergraduate assistant" position and will look to help out for the Broncos. With all his professional experience, he will be an asset to pitching Coach Mike Zirelli and the young Bronco pitching staff.

"When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it," said Crudale.

Crudale hopes to be inspiration for Bronco players, especially the pitchers. His main goal is to help current SCU players realize that through hard work they can accomplish their goals.

"Some players say 'oh I might be too small to play professionally'. I want them to see that that there's nothing special about me physically. So if I can do it, they can too" added the new assistant. "Hopefully I can be there and lend an ear for them."