University of Chicago Athletic Director Erin McDermott announced on Monday that John Fitzgerald has been hired as the Head Baseball Coach for the Maroons. He succeeds Brian Baldea, who served as head coach for 24 years before taking on an enhanced role as Associate Athletic Director at UChicago.
As a collegiate athlete, Fitzgerald was a four-year letterwinner for the UChicago baseball team. He compiled a career pitching record of 12-8, including a 6-2 mark in 1996. He helped the Maroons reach 20 wins in three-consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. Fitzgerald was also President of the Order of the C. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in sociology and was an assistant baseball coach at UChicago in 1999. Fitzgerald went on to receive a master's degree in business administration from Loyola University Chicago.
"I am thrilled to bring back one of our own to lead Maroon Baseball," McDermott said. "We honor the past as we look forward to the future under John's leadership. He is a distinguished alumnus, an accomplished head coach and the highest quality of person who is committed to education and excellence. Given his passion for UChicago, John will work tirelessly for our players and for the overall success of our program."
Fitzgerald has totaled 214 victories in 10 years as a collegiate head coach, including seven seasons with at least 20 wins. He comes to Hyde Park after spending the previous seven years at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. The Cardinals won 143 games during his tenure, which made him the third-winningest coach in the 153-year history of the program.
"I would sincerely like to thank Erin McDermott and the Search Committee for the support and confidence they have shown in allowing me to become the next Head Baseball Coach at the University of Chicago," Fitzgerald said. "The opportunity to return to my alma mater in this position is a dream that I have held since entering the coaching profession over ten years ago. I look forward to the challenge of upholding the great tradition and success that Coach Baldea instilled within the program over the last 24 years. I am anxious to get to work and meet our current roster, begin recruiting and introduce my family to the incredible University of Chicago community."
In 2014, Fitzgerald led North Central to a 27-15 record and the pitching staff recorded the second-lowest ERA in school history (3.33). His 2010 squad went 31-11 and reached the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship for the first time in 12 years. The 31 victories were the second most in school history. The Cardinals went 17-4 in conference games that year to win the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) title, and Fitzgerald was named CCIW Coach of the Year.
Prior to his arrival at North Central, Fitzgerald was Head Baseball Coach at Illinois Institute of Technology from 2004-06. The Scarlet Hawks went 26-21 in 2005 to record the second-highest win total in school history. They were also ranked in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) top 25 for the first time ever.
In 2006-07, Fitzgerald was an assistant coach for the baseball program at the University of Notre Dame, where he coached the pitchers, catchers and outfielders. He also coached four different clubs from 2003-06 in the Central Illinois Collegiate Baseball League, the New York Collegiate Baseball League and the New England Collegiate Baseball League.