BY STEVE KRAH
Nick McIntyre coaches hitters, catchers and outfielders and coordinates recruiting for the University of Toledo baseball program.
In his 12th year with the Rockets in 2020, McIntyre knows just the kind of player he likes to land in the NCAA Division I’s Mid-American Conference.
“There’s a baseline of talent you have to have at the D-I level,” says McIntyre, a graduate of McCutcheon High School and Purdue University — both in West Lafayette, Ind. “What the kid has inside matters as much as anything.”
McIntyre, who is on a Toledo staff with head coach Rob Reinstetle, assistant Tommy Winterstein and volunteer Sean Repay, seeks players with the right type of makeup.
“I tend to go toward the dirtbag type of player that can hit a little bit,” says McIntyre. “Going forward, I’d like us to be a little more athletic on the field. I’d like to run a little better.”
McIntyre and company value offensive versatility and the ability to drive the ball.
“We have to have some thump,” says McIntyre. “I’d like everybody to at least be able to hit a double.
“I do like to recruit hitters — not just 6-5 guys who hit the ball real hard.”
McIntyre notes that the better players get the game to slow down and learn how to hunt pitches in certain counts.
This comes with time and work.
“We’re a mid-major school,” says McIntyre. “We’re not getting the most refined product. We take pride in our development.
“We recognize talent and develop it. The expectation to win is the next hurdle.”
In the fall, Toledo takes two or three weeks on individuals, getting pitchers and hitters up to speed on the program’s philosophy. Hitters hunt fastballs and try to stay in the middle of the field.
“That’s the time guys go out and compete for playing time for the spring,” says McIntyre.
If things need to be refined, they can be done after that.
McIntyre was an infield coach and assistant hitting coach for Cory Mee, who was Rockets head coach for 16 seasons (2004-19) and enjoys the change of pace that came with 2019-20.
He was recruited at Purdue as a catcher and played mostly third base and shortstop in his six minor league seasons after being selected as a second baseman by the Detroit Tigers in the 20th round of the 2003 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
McIntyre played at McCutcheon for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jake Burton, helping the Mavericks win the IHSAA Class 4A state championship in 1999.
“Growing up in the McCutcheon area, baseball is a big deal,” says McIntyre. “(McCutcheon players), those were your superstars.
“(Burton) made that happen. He grew that system from the ground up. He was intense and winning was the expectation. Practices very organized.”
It was more of the same when McIntyre played at Purdue for Doug Schreiber.
“He was definitely intense,” says McIntyre, who was part of Schreiber’s first Boilermaker recruiting class. “You knew what the goal was to win. Period. No excuses.”
Purdue opened the 2001 season by knocking off the No. 1 team in the country — Rice.
It was not a big deal to Schreiber.
“We were expected to win,” says McIntyre.
When the Boilers twice lost to No. 2-ranked Clemson by two runs in 2002, there was no celebration.
“There were no moral victories,” says McIntyre.
Tristan McIntyre, Nick’s cousin, is now head coach at McCutcheon. Jake McIntyre, Nick’s brother, is on the Mavericks coaching staff.
“I’m pumped for him,” says Nick of Tristan. “He gets it.”
Nick McIntyre turned 39 on the day Toledo played its last game of 2020 — a March 11 loss at Vanderbilt.
With the early shutdown to the season, the NCAA has awarded another year of eligibility for players.
“It only benefits us,” says McIntyre. “We had a very strong junior class this year. As for our seniors, we’ll see if they want to come back.”
Combined with the MLB draft possibly being limited to 10 rounds or less, it will make for a very competitive situation with players staying in the college game — either at their current schools or entering the transfer portal — and incoming high schoolers.
“It makes the cream rise to the top and puts more quality players in the pool,” says McIntyre. “There will be a a lot more competition the next few years. Junior college baseball will be very good.”
With Reinstetle in charge, Toledo is aggressive in recruiting and goes after junior college players to help supplement those coming out of high school.
“We’re calling everybody on earth,” says McIntyre. “We may get shot down a lot.
“If you want to play baseball, there’s somewhere for you. You decide the lineup the way you play in the fall and participate in practice.”
For now, COVID-19 has the diamond world in a holding pattern.
“You can only get better at baseball if you’re playing,” says McIntyre. “A lot of our guys are missing out on this time.
“How much summer ball will get played. It’s unknown right now.”
Repay, a graduate of Highland (Ind.) High School, has been a manager of the Bismarck (N.D.) Larks in the Northwoods League the past three years and got most Toledo players placed with summer collegiate leagues back in the fall.
Nick and Heather McIntyre have three children — daughters Mia (8) and Morgan (5) and son Mason (18 months). The former Heather Zielinski is a Sylvania, Ohio, native who played golf at Purdue. Nick and Heather did not meet while attending Purdue but at a tailgate event.
Nick McIntyre, a graduate of McCutcheon High School and Purdue University — both in West Lafayette, Ind. — was in his 12th season as a baseball assistant coach at the University of Toledo in 2020. (University of Toledo Photo)