No last minute pitches unnecessary when one of the game’s traditional powers came calling. Dan McDonnell and Vince Tyra have been discussing the future of University of Louisville baseball for quite a while now.
“I’ve enjoyed our conversations about the program and a relationship we’ve developed going back to when Dan first arrived in Louisville, and certainly over the last eight months,” said Tyra at a joint press conference Thursday.
“That relationship has made the last few days it very comfortable for us to talk openly about what we would like to see for the Louisville program.”
McDonnell told fans Wednesday that he had talked with John Cohen at Mississippi State about the job but he wanted to remain at Louisville.
A grateful Tyra said UofL wants to provide a great atmosphere for players, as much as facilities and more seats. “We’re exactly on the same page … We want to make sure we’re together with Dan for a long time, and that this is where he is going to stay. I’m going to do every thing in my power to keep him here and keep producing the kind of kids and winning teams we’ve had.”
He added that he has kept new UofL President Neeli Bendapudi informed about discussions. “She has been terrific,” he said. “Neeli has been hand in hand with both of us, and she has been supportive of someone who represents what we want this program and this university to be.”
When we get to Omaha, I want them to say, 'There's Louisville again.' There's the bird with teeth, and there's their fans ...
McDonnell has received Tyra’s support for a new pro locker room addition to Jim Patterson Stadium to accommodate former UofL players now in professional baseball. There are approximately 30 of them now, many returning during the off season to study and to hone their athletic skills.
“Louisville is like a second home to them,” said McDonnell. “We want to provide a comfortable environment for them. We enjoy having them around in the locker room but it’s getting a little crowded with so many professional players now. They need to have their own facility.”
Tyra said he hoped a Request for Proposals could be submitted within the next 60 days, and indicated that the project could funded by a combination of private donations, athletic funds and the Dugout Club, a fan support group.
McDonnell said expectations for UofL baseball are at an all-time high. “The fans expect it, the media expects it, and I want college baseball to expect it. I want them to expect Louisville to be in a regional, hosting a regional, in a super regional. When we get to Omaha, I want them to say, ‘There’s Louisville again.’ There’s the bird with teeth, and there’s their fans and they’re a regular. We want to be knocking on the door to Omaha every year.”
Pretty obvious that Tyra and McDonnell have much in common with their aspirations for the program.