On Friday morning, Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics and Athletic Director Ray Anderson officially announced that former Sun Devil Willie Bloomquist will be taking over the reins of the baseball program.
“In order to get (the program) back (to high-level success), we have to give it back,” Anderson said to start Friday’s introductory presser.
The hire comes less than a week after the Sun Devils were eliminated from the Austin regional, and four days after Tracy Smith was dismissed as head coach.
“There is certainly a familiarity, love and passion that is elevated when you’ve lived in this culture of ASU athletics,” Anderson said. “He has that culture; he has that passion.”
Anderson added that the baseball program needs to get back to that “glory day swagger” it had in the past.
Bloomquist is no stranger to that time period in Sun Devil history, because he was on the roster the last time Arizona State was close to securing a national championship.
Bloomquist played baseball at ASU from 1997-99 before going on to have a 14-year career in the big leagues. In his time as a Sun Devil, Bloomquist was a two-time All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1999.
“I can honestly say that the best three years of my baseball career were at ASU,” Bloomquist said. “This new chapter is not about me anymore, it’s about these kids in the locker room.”
Despite this being his first head coaching gig, Bloomquist has not spent much time away from the diamond. He was the Special Assistant to the president and CEO for the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last six years.
“Winning has always been expected at ASU and that doesn’t change,” Bloomquist said. “If we create accountability and do things the right way, the wins will follow.”
After Smith’s departure and rumors of Bloomquist’s hire swirled, the shift focused on whether hitting coach Mike Earley and pitching coach Jason Kelly would be retained by whomever was next in-charge.
Players like Kai Murphy took to social media to lobby for their return.
Bloomquist, who played for Pat Murphy while at ASU, said that he was still looking into who will fill the assistant coaching positions. However, “there are some candidates from the previous staff that I would be foolish not to look at.”
With his No. 30 jersey hanging behind him on the Zoom call, and anticipation in his voice, there is no doubt that Bloomquist is ready to bring Arizona State back to prominence in Omaha.
“This program goes a lot deeper and a lot further than any of us remember,” Bloomquist said. “It’s our job as players and now coaches to carry that torch forward.”