Reusse: Gophers picked right replacement for legendary baseball coach John Anderson (2024)

John Anderson long was a believer in Ty McDevitt's potential to replace him as Gophers baseball coach, although it took defeating a greater opponent to make that happen for Anderson's pitching coach.

McDevitt was feeling a touch different physically in the summer of 2021, which he could rationalize at times based on two events, one distressing and the other joyous.

The distress was "the season we had," that being 6-31 in a 2021 schedule of all-Big Ten games due to pandemic restrictions. And then in August, Ty and Claire McDevitt became first-time parents with the birth of their daughter, Mila.

There were physical symptoms he described as "annoying" in the fall, then in the winter of 2021-22, McDevitt was losing balance and experiencing tremors.

Turned out he had chronic Lyme disease.

"I was going in the right direction with treatment the next year, and then bottom fell out in the fall of 2022," McDevitt said.

His liver was backed up. His head was inflamed. He had to step away from his Gophers duties for the 2023 season for a full-on treatment battle against this disease delivered by a mysterious culprit.

"It wasn't from the traditional engorged tick," McDevitt said. "We never did find out where it started.

"We're not the Minnesota family with a cabin at the lake. I had done some yard work. Who knows? These ticks can be as small as a poppy seed."

Alec Crawford filled in as a pitching coach for the 2023 season. The record was 10-14 in the Big Ten, 18-34 overall with a tough non-conference schedule.

Anderson's option was picked up for 2024, and then in mid-December, it was announced he would retire following his 43rd season as head coach.

The speculation on a successor was minimal, although some alums thought it would be a fine idea to bring in Brian Raabe, the fiery, successful leader of the Bethel Royals. Tim Huber, a Belle Plaine guy with considerable success in Division II at Augustana (S.D.), was also mentioned.

McDevitt was back as pitching coach, and the Gophers improved as the season went along — 25-23 overall, 11-13 in the Big Ten.

He was announced as the new coach on May 22, and Anderson stated in a text message: "Yes, I 100 percent recommended Ty since my decision to retire. He is prepared and the right person for where the program and where college athletics are at right now."

Anderson also included an article from 247 Sports on Arizona State, once the crème de la crème of college baseball, facing perhaps an insurmountable challenge as the Sun Devils head into the Big 12 for 2025 with very little in the way of NIL money and other resources.

And if Arizona State can't compete, good luck up here in the Frozen Wasteland, and with the Vikings and the denizens of today's dome (U.S. Bank Stadium) doing everything they can to keep baseball out of there in February and March.

Billy Soule, a former Gopher from the Dugout Club, a group that tries its best to support the baseball program, said: "The dome people don't want baseball and nobody in the governor's office is pushing to hold them to the safeguards in the original stadium bill. … That's what I've been told."

Rumor has it, the Gophers might get two weekends inside next season. "No comment," McDevitt said. "Above my pay grade."

Soule was on the phone last week to give a full endorsem*nt to McDevitt, a 31-year-old, healthy again, aggressive and knowing they aren't going to outspend SEC or Big 12 teams if they want a big-time recruit from the Gophers' backyard.

"We're going to get mostly Minnesota and Midwest kids, unfinished products, and turn them into better players, better pitchers," McDevitt said. "We're going to be working very hard to get players to come here and then to want to stay."

McDevitt has retained Crawford, and he will be the pitching coach. Assistant Packy Casey is leaving, and McDevitt will be naming a pair of "offensive coaches" in the next week.

He's local (Eastview High), has already beaten an evil opponent and is excited that Mila will be getting a baby brother in August.

McDevitt has a young man's determination to make baseball a source of pride again and not just an expense for the athletic program.

"Ty's the right guy for the job," Soule said. "I'm not just saying that to agree with John. I'm convinced."

Reusse: Gophers picked right replacement for legendary baseball coach John Anderson (2024)


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