Nevada baseball hires Long Beach State's Troy Buckley as associate head coach

Troy Buckley
Troy Buckley has been hired as Nevada's associate head coach and pitching coach. (Nevada handout)

Nevada head baseball coach T.J. Bruce announced Tuesday former Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley will be the Wolf Pack's associate head coach and pitching coach.

“We are very excited about Troy joining the program,” Bruce said in a news release. “He is a dedicated coach who is not only one of the best pitching coaches in the west, but in the country. He will bring tremendous passion and energy to the program.”

During his college career, Buckley has coached 31 major-leaguers, with 99 players getting drafted and five going in the first round. As an assistant and head coach at Long Beach State, he made nine postseason appearances, including three trips to NCAA Super Regionals. He replaces Steve Bennett, who was Nevada's pitching coach since 2016. Bennett and Nevada parted ways earlier this offseason.

“I am extremely excited and thankful to be part of the University of Nevada,” Buckley said in a news release. “I would especially like to thank Doug Knuth and T.J. Bruce for their trust and for this opportunity. I am looking forward to serving the student-athletes, the program, the university and the community of Reno with the goals of excellence and a return to the post season. Go Pack!”

Buckley was Long Beach State's head coach from 2011-19. In nine seasons, he went 260-231-1 overall and 117-81 in the Big West, including three NCAA Regional appearances (one Super Regional). He was fired after a 5-26 start last season following an altercation with an assistant coach in the clubhouse termed in one report as "workplace violence." Another report termed the incident a "heated verbal altercation." Buckley had a contract with Long Beach State signed through 2022.

Buckley was a standout catcher for three years at Santa Clara where he was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and second-team All-American in 1988. That season, he slashed .442 with 82 RBIs with both marks setting single-season school records. The Los Altos, Calif., native was drafted in the ninth round of the 1989 MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins and was in the minor leagues from 1990-1995 where he played as high as Triple-A.

Buckley began his coaching career with the Montreal Expos' Double-A affiliate as a hitting instructor and third-base coach. Following that season, he became a pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Expos before returning to his alma mater from 1998-2000 to serve as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator with the Broncos.

Following three seasons at Santa Clara, Buckley took on the same role at Long Beach State. In 2002, he helped the Dirtbags post a 2.99 ERA, which ranked fifth nationally and coached current Nevada volunteer assistant Abe Alvarez to Big West Pitcher of the Year honors.

The following year, Buckley coached another big-leaguer in Jered Weaver to two more dominant seasons as Long Beach State reached the Super Regionals with a 39-21 record. Weaver then led the staff to a 3.11 ERA in 2004 under Buckley’s guidance, which ranked as the fourth best nationally. Weaver was selected 12th overall in the 2004 MLB draft after posting a 15-1 record, 1.62 ERA and 213 strikeouts while being named the National Player of the Year that season. Buckley led the Dirtbags to a Division I-best 2.53 ERA the following year.

After spending two seasons as a pitching coordinator in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor-league system, Buckley returned to the Dirtbags as the team’s associate head coach. The following season, he was named the head coach of the Dirtbags. Bruce played under Buckley during LBSU’s 2004 season and served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Dirtbags for five seasons, including under Buckley.

Quotes on Nevada's hiring of Buckley

“Buck changed the way I looked at the game of baseball. I always understood the right way to play because of my father, but Buck’s guidance helped me transform into a professional pitcher. That guidance helped me sustain the career I have had. Buck has been an irreplaceable tool, and for that I’m truly grateful!” - Jason Vargas, MLB player with New York Mets, 2015 World Series champion with Kansas City Royals, 2017 American League All-Star

“This is a great hire for T.J. Bruce at Nevada. Coach Buckley gave me the opportunity to go to Long Beach State and become an all-around baseball player. I always enjoyed being the underdog and as a true “Dirtbag” player I know Buck will add to what Nevada has going on. Buck helped teach me how to play the game hard and aggressive allowing me to be present and have the ability to help the team win with every opportunity I was given.” - Jeff McNeil, MLB player with New York Mets, 2019 MLB All-Star

“Troy Buckley is one of the best coaches any collegiate player could have. He was not only an invaluable coach but also a great mentor. He taught me grit, perseverance and to always approach all aspects of the game with respect. That is a lesson I continue to apply every day.” - Carlos Muniz, former MLB Player with New York Mets, current MLB Scout for the Cleveland Indians

“Buck took my mechanics and ability to make pitches to the next level. If it wasn’t for him I may not have been able to reach my goal of getting to the big leagues.” - Jered Weaver, former MLB player with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 1st round pick in 2004 MLB draft, 2004 Golden Spikes winner

“Because of Buck I was able to achieve my goal of pitching in the Major Leagues. Buck pushed my talents to the highest level by working with my mechanics and my understanding of executing pitches. His mentorship gave me the confidence in my abilities to fulfill my childhood dreams, a goal I now keep for myself as a growing coach and mentor.” - Abe Alvarez, former MLB player with Boston Red Sox, 2nd round pick in 2003 MLB draft, part of 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, member of Nevada baseball staff.

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