MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Former baseball coach, athletic director and alumnus of the St. Thomas University Sports Administration program Paul Mainieri was honored Friday night at the dedication of a new baseball field and scoreboard at St. Thomas University. The new field, home of the St. Thomas University Bobcats baseball team, is now named Paul Demie Mainieri Field at Frank R. Esposito Stadium.
To dedicate the field, Mainieri's father Dr. Demie Mainieri threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the baseball game between the St. Thomas Bobcats and the Southeastern Fire. Dr. Mainieri represented his son at the dedication due to a conflict with an LSU baseball game on Friday night in Baton Rouge, La.
Paul Mainieri, currently the Head Baseball Coach at LSU, asked to include his middle name "Demie" in the naming of the field because it is the same name as his father's first name. Both Mainieris have deep roots with St. Thomas, and recently became the first father-son duo to be elected to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Paul Mainieri is an alumnus (M.S. Sports Administration, 1982), former Head Baseball Coach, and former Director of Athletics at St. Thomas. He won the NCAA College World Series with LSU in 2009 and was recently named a 2014 inductee for the ABCA Hall of Fame.
"St. Thomas University will always hold a very special place in my heart because of many reasons," said Paul Mainieri. "First of all, I received an outstanding education in the nationally-renowned Sports Administration program and that degree has opened many doors for me professionally. Also, I was proud to have served both on the faculty and as the athletic director. Most importantly, however, the university gave me my first opportunity as a young man to become a head coach in college baseball. Ken Stibler, the athletic director, believed in me and I worked hard to confirm the confidence he and the university had in me."
The new baseball field, with its improvements, is rapidly becoming one of the finest in college baseball. The improved field will facilitate continued growth of the baseball program which is currently ranked 12th in the national NAIA Coaches Poll. Paul Mainieri strongly believes the program is moving in the right direction under the leadership of current Head Coach Jorge Perez.
"As my career evolved and I moved on to new challenges, I followed the Bobcats program very closely from afar and continued to be proud of the success the coaches that followed me have had," said Paul Mainieri. "Al Avila, Jim Pizzolatto, and Manny Mantrana all did a tremendous job in keeping the program at a high level. And now, Jorge Perez, a man I admire very much as a person and a coach, has the Bobcats primed for national prominence on an annual basis. To know that he will continue to develop the program on a field that bears my name is extremely gratifying and overwhelming for me."
Paul Mainieri entered the 2013 season with a 1,122-614-7 career record in 30 seasons of collegiate coaching. He is No. 10 on the career wins list for active NCAA coaches and is one of only six active coaches to have won 1,000 games and an NCAA national championship.
Entering his seventh season at LSU, Paul Mainieri has guided the Tigers to two College World Series appearances, winning the national championship in 2009. He has also directed LSU to three NCAA Regional titles, two Southeastern Conference championships, three SEC Tournament titles and three SEC Western Division crowns.
Prior to becoming LSU's coach in June 2006, Paul Mainieri directed the Notre Dame program in 12 seasons (1995-2006) to 533 wins, nine conference titles, nine NCAA tournament berths and a College World Series appearance in 2002. He coached the Air Force Academy from 1989-94 where he won 152 games and is the only coach in school history to win 20 or more games in six consecutive seasons.
Paul Mainieri's coaching career began at his alma mater, Miami Columbus High School, where he served as assistant baseball and football coach for three years before taking over at St. Thomas in the fall of 1982.
Paul Mainieri graduated with a Master of Science degree in Sports Administration from St. Thomas in 1982 where his coaching career began. He was the Head Coach for St. Thomas from 1983-88, while also serving as the University's Director of Athletics from 1986-88. He amassed a career record of 179-121-2 in six years at St. Thomas.
His St. Thomas teams averaged 30 wins per season (after an average of just 18 wins in the six previous years) and four of his six teams were ranked in the NCAA Division II Top 10 during the season. He was named the Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year in 1984 and his 1987 team led the nation with a .340 batting average.
Fifteen of Paul Mainieri's St. Thomas players entered pro baseball, with Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier each going on to appear on Major League rosters. Klink played with the 1987 Minnesota Twins and 1989 Oakland A's World Series championship teams while also pitching with the Florida Marlins in 1994.
"During my time coaching the Bobcats, I had the distinct honor of working with so many outstanding young men in our baseball program," said Paul Mainieri. "I am proud of the effort and dedication they gave to our university; and the distinction they brought to our baseball program. Following their time at St. Thomas, they have gone on to become successful in their lives and that is of which I am most proud. I hope we had an influence on teaching them what it took to succeed."
Paul Mainieri was inducted into the St. Thomas University Sports Hall of Fame in November 2009, and his jersey No. 1 was retired by the University in February 2012. Now the baseball field will bestow his name, along with his father's, with the dedication of Paul Demie Mainieri Field at Frank R. Esposito Stadium.
"I am honored and humbled to have the baseball field at St. Thomas University named after me," said Paul Mainieri. "I never imagined something like this would ever have been bestowed upon me."
Dr. Demie Mainieri, who was an adjunct professor in the early years of the prestigious St. Thomas University Sports Administration program, won 1,012 games as Head Baseball Coach at Miami-Dade Community College North. He was elected to the ABCA Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1990, Dr. Mainieri became the first junior college coach in history to win 1,000 games. He finished with 1,012 wins in a career that spanned from 1961 to 1990. While at Miami-Dade College, Dr. Mainieri coached 35 players who went on to play in the major leagues including Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, Bucky Dent, and Mike Piazza.