Who knew the 2002 Angels would be a hotbed of future college head coaches?
UC Riverside announced Troy Percival as its new head coach on Tuesday, taking over for the retired Doug Smith. Percival becomes the second ’02 Angel to land a head job at a D-I program, joining Darin Erstad of Nebraska. Like Erstad, Percival is returning to his alma mater, where he’s the most prominent baseball alumnus. The 44-year-old played 14 seasons in the majors, 10 with the Angels, racking up 358 career saves to rank ninth all-time. Percival was a four-time all-star and had 40 saves with a 1.92 ERA for the Angels’ 2002 World Series-winning team. He last pitched in the majors with the Rays in 2009. Since retiring, Percival has worked as a high school coach and spent one season as a roving instructor in the Angels’ system.
Long-time fans will remember that Percival, a sixth-round pick in 1990, actually was a catcher during his playing days at UCR and didn’t convert to the mound until his second year in the minors.
(Long-time BA fans also may recall that Percival was the subject of the first post on our old College Blog.)
“As we went through the hiring process for this position, it became clear that we had a special candidate in Troy Percival,” UCR athletic director Jim Wooldridge said in a release. “First and foremost, a coach is a teacher and a leader, and Troy’s former coaches and teammates from both his collegiate and professional playing days all spoke very highly of him in that regard.
“And lastly, Troy is Riverside. He has life-long ties to the university, to the community, and to the region, and that is of particular importance as it relates to recruiting and generating interest and excitement around our baseball program here in the Inland Empire.”
The Highlanders went 26-28 (12-12 Big West) in Smith’s final season this spring, finishing tied for fifth in the conference. The program last made regionals in 2007.