MENOMONIE (January 17, 2012) - Toby Gardenhire officially became the UW-Stout head baseball coach on Tuesday (January 17).
Saturday (January 21), Gardenhire is getting married to Lindsay Wlaschin.
In between those dates Gardenhire has a lot details to attend to, both for the wedding and to begin to put his thumbprint on the Blue Devil baseball program.
“I have always wanted to stay in baseball, but that is harder than it sounds,” Gardenhire said. “When you are playing, your career can end so abruptly.
“I had a good experience playing in college. I have wanted to get into college (coaching) more than in the pros. I would like to be a part of the college atmosphere.”
Gardenhire is not the only coach new to the UW-Stout baseball coaching staff this season. Both head coach Seth Maier and assistant coach Ryan Levondoski left the program this winter to pursue positions in the private sector.
Adam Curynski, a former pitcher at Southern Illinois University who also had stints playing independent minor league ball, joins the staff as the assistant coach, working with the pitchers.
“It’s kind of funny, two new guys into the program going off each other,” Gardenhire said. “Seth did a really good job getting this program going in the right direction. Now, we will get a chance to mold our own team and put in our own systems.”
“In the short time frame we had to search for a replacement for coach Maier, we had a number of high quality candidates interview for the position,” UW-Stout athletic director Duey Naatz said. “We believe Toby will do a great job to continue to move this program forward.”
Gardenhire has a lot of baseball background to draw upon. The son of Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, Toby has been around baseball dugouts and locker rooms his entire life.
“It’s not so much the talent level I was around,” Gardenhire said. “But what I saw was the work ethic from a lot of the players. My dad’s locker was next to Kirby Puckett. I got to see a great player, a great teammate, what a great worker and what a great person he was. The same was true with Jim Thome. Here is a Hall of Fame player who is a genuine person. I can take a lot out of that.”
But Gardenhire has plenty of his own experiences to draw upon.
He has been a hitting and fielding instructor with the Twins Training Academy in Blaine, Minn., as a hitting and fielding instructor from 2009-11, and was a defensive fielding instructor with LPA Baseball in Roseville, Minn., from 2005-09.
Gardenhire, an infielder, played his college ball at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Junior College, at Southwest Missouri State and then finished at the University of Illinois when the Illini won the 2005 Big Ten championship. While in college, Gardenhire played summer ball for the Rochester, Minn., Honkers in the Northwoods League, earning the most inspirational player award in 2005.
Gardenhire was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2002 and again in 2005. He played with the organization's minor league teams from 2005-11. Gardenhire worked his way through the farm clubs, earning the 10th Man award for the AA New Britain, Conn., Rock Cats and received the Most Popular award with AAA Rochester, Minn., Red Wings in 2011.
At Roseville, Minn., High School, Gardenhire was a four-sport letter winner, playing baseball, basketball, football and soccer. He was a two-time all-conference soccer selection.
“I am really looking forward to getting down to work and have some fun,” Gardenhire said. “I am excited to be a part of the university. I think we are set up in a good situation because of what Seth and his staff did here.”
Gardenhire received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Ilinois in community health in 2005. In addition to serving as head baseball coach, Gardenhire will also be an instructor in the UW-Stout Physical Education Department.
Gardenhire is the 28th baseball coach in UW-Stout baseball history. The baseball program began in 1909.
Adam Curynski named assistant baseball coach
An NCAA Division I starting pitcher at Southern Illinois University, Adam Curynski begins his first year with the Blue Devils in 2012 as the team's pitching coach.
Curynski played two years at Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill, where he made 33 total starts for the Salukis. A 2008 All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, Curynski played a season of professional baseball with the Texarkana Gunslingers of the independent Continental League. Before transferring to Southern Illinois, Curynski played two years at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, where he was named the team captain and MVP, as well as twice earning all-region honors. Monroe CC captured two National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region III championships, a Northeast District championship and finished third at the 2007 NJCAA Division II World Series.
Curynski has served coaching stints at Southern Illinois (2009, assistant coach); Bishop Kearney High School (2010, head coach) in Webster, NY; the Webster Yankees of the New York Collegiate Baseball League (pitching coach, 2010); Monroe Community College (pitching coach, 2010-11); and the Pro Sports Academy (director of baseball operations, 2011) in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Curynski is a native of Webster, NY, and received a bachelor's degree in recreation management from Southern Illinois.
Layne Pitt, UW-Stout Sports Information