Cal State Fullerton baseball coach Rick Vanderhook to retire

Cal State Fullerton baseball coach Rick Vanderhook has announced his retirement.

In a joint announcement by Vanderhook and Athletic Director Jim Donovan, Vanderhook will retire effective Dec. 30, 2021, and will serve as a special assistant to Donovan for the rest of this year.

“I am very appreciative of all that Hook has done for our baseball program and want to celebrate those successes,” Donovan said in a statement. “I have fond memories of our winning at Louisville and Long Beach State to secure trips in 2015 and 2017 to Omaha, the Big West Championships we won and his part in us winning the Big West Commissioner’s Cup in 2017-2018.

“In addition to his achievements on the field, Coach has also been a prolific fundraiser, raising more than $2.6 million for Titans Baseball – the most of any coach in school history – and for that, we are extremely grateful.”

Cal State Fullerton has struggled the last three seasons after decades as one of the best baseball programs in the nation. The Titans had a winning record and reached the NCAA tournament every year from 1992 through 2018, but the team went 28-27 in 2019, was 4-11 in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season and finished 20-35 overall and 13-23 in Big West play this season, finishing ninth in the 11-team conference.

The Titans lost 14 of their final 15 games and were outscored 37-5 by Cal Poly (SLO) while being swept in a four-game series; lost three of four games to rival Long Beach State and were swept (in a four-game series) by Big West champion UC Irvine for the first time in program history.

Vanderhook was 322-225 in his 10 seasons as head coach, with seven NCAA appearances and five Big West titles. He led the Titans to the NCAA super regionals four times, making two trips to the College World Series (2015, 2017). He was an assistant at Fullerton for 21 seasons, including the 1995 and 2004 national title seasons, before becoming the head coach.

A product of the Cerritos College program where he played for future CSF coach George Horton, Vanderhook played for the Titans’ 1984 national championship team.

“It has been a pleasure to be the head coach of this program,” Vanderhook said in the statement. “I have spent most of my career here and I am proud of all the things we were able to accomplish on the field. Not only on the field, but I am proud of all the student-athletes who earned their degrees under my tutelage.”

Vanderhook signed a new five-year contract in January of 2019 that would have carried him through 2024. No announcement has been made regarding a settlement of that contract. His contract reportedly was $200,000 annually, including salary and benefits.

A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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