Slippery Rock University head baseball coach Jeff Messer has begun his 30th season in charge of the program, and his career with SRU has taken another leap forward as he just earned is 900th career win over spring break.
Having reached this milestone, Messer now ranks eighth among all active NCAA Division II coaches in career victories, and currently sits at 22 all time. His win total also now ranks him first among all active collegiate head coaches in Pennsylvania at any NCAA level.
“It’s a good number to have, but we’re not finished yet,” Messer said. “I like to look at championships as bigger accomplishments than just win totals. My assistants keep me more aware of the win total than I do myself.”
Along with his win total, Messer’s career has also come along with a long list of other accomplishments. That list includes 15 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division titles, four PSAC championship appearances with two PSAC championship titles, four regional championships and four appearances in the NCAA Division II College World Series. Messer has also earned PSAC-West “Coach of the Year” honors 10 times. Messer’s success with the program was also a key factor in the university deciding to build an on-campus baseball facility.
Jack Critchfield Park was built in 2002, and is considered to be a state of the art Division II baseball facility.
“The facilities are just amazing, and being able to see this stadium get built was tremendous,” Messer said. “The field we used to play on up on the hill was a very nice baseball field, but it was just a huge step forward for this entire program when we decided to build a stadium.”
Messer has plenty of fond memories over his 30-year tenure at the Rock, but the 1989 Division II College World Series may stick out the most. That season, Messer and his squad nearly missed the PSAC playoffs, but thanks to a last game of the season win against Edinboro University, it propelled his team in to the tournament. The team’s performance in the tournament actually earned them a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Messer has seen a lot of his former players move on from Slippery Rock and play at a professional level as well, and that is something that makes him very proud.
“We always check up on our guys to see what they’re doing as professionals,” Messer said. “Of course we have one guy that made it all the way to the big leagues and that is Matt Adams. It’s exciting to have had him play with us and it’s just so fun to follow him through his journey in the bigs.”
Messer wishes to leave behind a lasting legacy at Slippery Rock, but still knows that he does not planning on stepping down from the position any time soon.
“Whenever I decide to leave, and it’s not necessarily in the near future, I hope that whoever takes over respects what we’ve built here,” Messer said. “Whenever my time is finished, I will continue to be a big supporter and hope that the program continues to build and get better and better.”