BERKELEY – Cal baseball will call on a familiar face to write its next chapter as former Golden Bear pitching coach and major league pitcher Mike Neu has agreed to become the 11th head coach in program history.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Mike Neu back to Berkeley as the head coach of our baseball program,” Director of Athletics Mike Williams said. “During his first tenure here, Mike displayed a keen understanding of what it takes to recruit and develop student-athletes for success both on the field and in the Berkeley community as a whole. That experience, combined with the time he has spent as head coach at Pacific, convinced us that he is the perfect fit to lead Cal baseball.
Cal’s pitching coach from 2012 to 2015, Neu returns to Berkeley after two years as head coach at the University of the Pacific where he guided a rebuilding Tigers program to 40 wins over his two seasons. That turnaround started immediately in 2015 as Pacific won 12 games in the always-competitive West Coast Conference, the program’s second-most conference wins since 1999.
Before making the move to Stockton, Neu established himself as one of the Pac-12’s top pitching coaches and recruiters under head coach David Esquer, who recently stepped down following his 18th season as Cal’s head coach. Under his tutelage, the 2015 Bears compiled a team ERA of 3.03, the second-best mark for a Cal pitching staff since 1976. That team reached the final of the Texas A&M Regional thanks in part to the contributions of three of Neu’s pupils – Daulton Jefferies, Ryan Mason and Alex Schick – who would go on to be selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
Prior to his arrival in Berkeley, Neu’s reputation in pitching circles was already well-known. Serving as head coach at Diablo Valley College from 2009-11, Neu led the Vikings to an 87-41 record and two Big 8 Conference titles. His 2011 squad was ranked No. 1 in Northern California and DVC pitchers led all California Community Colleges with a 2.13 team ERA.
As a player, the Napa, Calif., native enjoyed a standout career at the University of Miami before going on to play in the Dodgers, Marlins, A’s and Reds organizations. Neu was called up to the Major Leagues with the A’s on April 9, 2003, and compiled a 3.64 ERA in 32 relief appearances that season.
At Miami, Neu helped the Hurricanes win the 1999 College World Series and finished the year 3-1 with a 2.94 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 67 innings. Named a Collegiate Baseball All-American, Neu led the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (14.8) and was selected to the All-CWS team after earning three saves and appearing in all four of Miami’s games in Omaha.
Before to transferring to Miami, Neu starred at Sacramento City College where he was named Northern California Pitcher of the Year, Bay Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year and a junior college All-American after going 15-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 139 strikeouts. He was also a standout for the same Vintage High program that produced Cal pitchers Jared Horn and Aaron Shortridge, setting Monticello Empire League records for career wins (21) and strikeouts (196).
“I’m unbelievably excited to be back,” Neu said. “I had such a great experience there for four years. I know how much of an important role I have and the challenge we have but I’m excited to be part of Cal again. It was a great experience at Pacific. I definitely feel like we had begun to build something special there. The administration and staff were great to me there. I really think that program is in a great place moving forward.”
“I recruited a lot of these guys and I have a personal relationship with a lot of these players,” Neu added. “With a younger group last year, I know they got a lot of experience and I’m excited to help them take that next step and get back to a NCAA Regional. It’ll be exciting to share that common goal with a lot of guys I’ve gotten to share some time with.”
Neu earned a Master’s degree in physical education from Ball State in 2011. He and his wife, Nicole, have one son, Damon.