Mike Cline, Bremen baseball coach.
Updated: January 17, 2013 6:01AM
Mike Cline has been coaching baseball at Bremen for 18 years, the last six as the head coach. He is also an assistant football coach for the Braves.
What’s your background in your sport, as a player?
I started playing baseball when I was 4 years old. I also played football and basketball. In high school, I was All-Conference in football and baseball, and the starting point guard on the varsity basketball team for three seasons. I played baseball at South Suburban College for Steve Ruzich. He was and still is a master coach!
When did you begin coaching and what was your first job?
I began my coaching career in 1992. I was a senior in high school and coached a Little League team. My first paying job in coaching was as the Bremen freshman coach in 1994.
What inspired you to go into coaching?
The late Howie Minas and my childhood neighbor Dave Kroener inspired me to coach baseball. Also, Bob Schmidt and many professional scouts and Midlothian White Sox players like Mike Lenti, Wink Cole, and Paul Stevens (the head coach at Northwestern) were a huge influence on me.
Are there any coaches you look up to, or did when you first started coaching?
I always looked up to my high school football and baseball coaches John Casson, the great John D’Ambrosio, Dale Augustine, Brad Johnson, Bob Hancock, TJ Johnson, Johnny Kramer, Stevie Krause, Ken Scott, Joe Powers, Joe Sparry, Steve Ruzich, Jeff Struebing, and, of course, my little league coach — the legendary Ed Novick.
I also respect the skills of Jimmy Leyland, Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin and Earl Weaver as managers in baseball.
What’s been your favorite moment as a coach?
My favorite moment as a coach was coaching my son Charlie’s baseball team to back-to-back championships. Younger kids are so impressionable and they worked so hard to win those titles! He makes me a proud father!
What’s the best game you’ve ever coached in?
That would have to be the game when my Bremen team broke the losing streak against Oak Forest in 2010. It was 31 games in a row we had lost to Oak Forest, or to put it into a better perspective, a 15-year-old streak. To win that game for all the great Bremen coaches that had great chances to end that streak prior to 2010 and fell short was a special moment.
Is there one game you look forward to every year? One opponent you enjoy playing?
We really enjoy playing Oak Forest. It is a baseball town and they always have a talented team. We recently started playing them at Standard Bank Stadium so that adds even more significance to the rivalry.
What changes have you seen in high school sports, if any, in recent years?
The biggest change has been the change in baseball to the BBCOR bats, which limits home runs. The game is being played as a more true game now with an emphasis on pitching, defense and manufacturing runs.
Personally, if cost was not an issue I would love to see the use of wood bats. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of the crack of the ball off a wooden bat. Well one thing, of course my wife Jamie is sweeter!
If you were in charge of the IHSA and could change one thing, what would it be?
I would propose to put the powerful Catholic teams into their own class.
It would be a great justice to the game of baseball. It is just too difficult for a public school with definitive boundaries that cannot recruit to consistently compete with schools that can recruit student athletes from anywhere — in some cases even Indiana — to attend their school.
Once a public champ and Catholic champ are crowned then a head-to-head game between two state champs would be exciting and a great draw!
What are you most proud of as a coach?
I am very proud that our student-athletes have been Academic All-State for four consecutive seasons and that 15 players in my five seasons have gone on to play college baseball. I am most proud to be a Bremen Brave!
As told to Steve Millar