Laying Down A Full House

USC's new pitching coach, Tom House, brings history and wealth of knowledge to L.A.


Aug. 23, 2007

By Douglas Kroll

CSTV.com

 



DOUG KROLL

Doug Kroll is an editor for CSTV.com, focusing on baseball.
E-mail here!

Tom House has had one of the more interesting careers in baseball for someone that finished his major league career 29-23 with 33 saves in 536 big league innings.

 

There are a few reasons why House's name rings a bell in households across the country.  Some of his gigs included being the pitching coach with the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and even in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Mariners. 

 

Nolan Ryan even credited House during his Hall of Fame induction speech for part of his success when the two were together in Arlington in the `80s. 

 

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, House will forever be enshrined in Cooperstown, for of all things, a catch.  But it wasn't a catch while on the playing field that was documented while he was playing for the Atlanta Braves. 

 

House was that boyish-looking player who caught Hank Aaron's No. 715 in the Braves' bullpen, and ran in from leftfield to hand him the ball. 

 

So what does any of this have to do with college baseball?  Everything.

 

The Seattle, Wash. native got his start at USC back in the late 1960s, where he shined during the 1967 season going 5-3 with a 1.43 ERA in 94 2-3 innings during his 1967 season with the Trojans.

 

And now he is back.

 

Regarded as one of the best pitching gurus around, House, now 60, has been hired by Chad Kreuter at USC as the next pitching coach of the Trojans.  But it's what he's leaving that begs the question, why?

 

House has built a successful company, as he's the founder and CEO of the National Pitching Association "which provides pitchers, parents and coaches with three-dimensional motion analysis, functional strength screens, mental/emotional profiles and nutritional assessments."

 

For a pitching coach that once used footballs for his pitchers to warm up with in the bullpen, he's certainly a good guy for Kreuter to have around his young pitchers.

 

Of course, Kreuter enjoyed a 16 year career as a major league catcher, retiring after the 2003 season.  Having two coaches on staff with major league experience, plus a pitching coach that built a company around helping young pitcher's arms, is something that will certainly benefit not only the kids on the roster now, but out on the recruiting trail.

 

"There's a certain amount of credibility involved when you've played and coached in the big leagues," House said.  "I've been very fortunate to have Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan cross my path and it does help when you sit down with a family or a young pitcher trying to decide where he wants to get his education.  It gives a little bit of an edge."

 

How does a guy go from successful business man back into the daily grind of being a college baseball assistant coach?  Simple enough.  He was asked to.

 

"Chad was a catcher with the Texas Rangers for four or five years when I was there as the pitching coach," House said.  "He was interviewing other pitching coach candidates and called me to see if I knew anything about them.  And then somehow, someway, it came up, if I was interested.  I thought I'd love to, but I wanted to keep my company alive, and it finally all trickled down and all the pieces were put in place."

 

And it's the respect that Kreuter has for House that even had him pick up the phone in the first place.

 

"For me it's very special, because Tom was a mentor to me when I was a rookie in the big leagues," Kreuter said.  "I made the team out of spring training and obviously had Tom there and Nolan Ryan and Charlie Hough to took care of me.  They made me the player that I was for my career, especially from Tom."

 

House's company will still be around, as the NCAA will let him run it, but most of his time will still be spent with the Trojans.

 

The transition back into the game shouldn't be too hard when taking a look at some of the names coming back for the Trojans in 2008.  Junior lefty Tommy Milone was just named the Cape Cod League's pitcher of the year, while sophomore Brad Boxberger was nearly lights out in the same league.  Throw in the fact that Robert Stock is a year older and could be ready for that closer's role, and House's inherited staff is in pretty good shape.

 

It's something he's found out pretty quickly.


"In just the limited information I've gotten from Chad about the kids that are throwing," House said, "we've got some pretty good arms coming back.  Those guys will certainly be the anchor of the pitching staff."

 

While having a former major leaguer become part of a college staff is nothing new, the path in which Tom House made it back to USC has been long and windy, and certainly successful. 

 

"Tom brings us knowledge," Kreuter said.  "He brings research, as he's tried to bring the pitching aspect of baseball into the 21st century with technology, and has done that.  It's going to be exciting not only for USC baseball, but for college baseball.  We're really going to put a stamp on the pitching models for years to come."

 

Forty years after leaving campus, House is back, and don't expect any footballs in the bullpen any time soon. 

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