ARIZONA STATE

Willie Bloomquist looks to bring ASU baseball back to national prominence

Feb 27, 2022, 10:20 AM | Updated: 1:07 pm
Arizona State Sun Devils baseball head coach Willie Bloomquist. (Twitter photo/@ASU_Baseball)...
Arizona State Sun Devils baseball head coach Willie Bloomquist. (Twitter photo/@ASU_Baseball)
(Twitter photo/@ASU_Baseball)

It’s the beginning of a new era for Arizona State baseball.

Former Sun Devil and Arizona Diamondback Willie Bloomquist has begun his first season at the helm of ASU’s baseball program that over the past seven years was led by head coach Tracy Smith. His candidacy for a college head-coaching job, he told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta, would be a non-conversation if it were anywhere but his alma mater.

“I realize I’m not going to be good at anything unless I’m passionate about it and I love Arizona State, I love the baseball program,” he said. “It’s really the only job in the country that I would do because I am that passionate about it.”

“I was enjoying retired life with my family and then this became available so I got thrown right back into the fire of crazy hours and working non-stop. But I’m really enjoying it and having a lot of fun doing it.”

Bloomquist played for former Sun Devils skipper Pat Murphy from 1997-99, including losing to the USC Trojans 21-14 in the 1998 College World Series Final.

Now in charge of his alma mater, Bloomquist looks to restore Arizona State’s baseball program to national prominence and get back to the College World Series for the first time in over a decade (2010). ASU hasn’t won a national championship in over 40 years (1981) after winning five in a 17-year span from 1965-81.

“That’s the plan, that’s the goal,” he said. “There’s a lot of holes we have to fill and patch up in order to get back to that program that is in there year in and year out.

“But that doesn’t change our mission and our goal this year. We understand the expectation at ASU and that’s what the expectations are and that’s why we’re here like it or not.”

However, one major change for Bloomquist from his playing days is where his team plays its games. The ASU skipper played his ball at Packard Stadium, but he will now manage the Sun Devils at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

“I loved Packard Stadium, that’s where I played and it had an aura and a mystique about it that we loved,” he said. “We’re just gonna have to get that mystique at Muni now.

“But what Muni offers is a much bigger complex, a bunch more facilities there in order to have the potential to host regionals, host super regionals. … There’s a lot of benefits that we have over there — a beautiful batting cage that was put in and a lot more potential to do some good things at that stadium.”

Bloomquist added that the extra field and space give the players more room to work on their craft. After all, the Oakland Athletics used to call the facilities home during spring training from 1982-2014 before ASU moved in.

And in his 14-year career in MLB, the former big leaguer has definitely learned a thing or two from managers he played for such as Lou Piniella, Kirk Gibson, Bob Melvin and Dusty Baker.

“I’m more of an old-school soul,” Bloomquist said of his managerial style. “I got the opportunity to play for a lot of tremendous managers over the years. … I kind of take tidbits from all those guys and try to morph it into my own style a little bit.

“I have different styles from all those guys, but I do try to take something from what they taught or what I learned from them and use it as our coaching style right now.”

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Willie Bloomquist looks to bring ASU baseball back to national prominence