By: Jack Loennecker – Layout Editor
When Mike Abate caught the final out in a William Paterson win against RPI on their Florida road trip the team congratulated themselves on a well-earned win. But one member of the team got more of a celebration than anyone else in this victory. Pioneers head coach Mike Lauterhahn received many hugs and handshakes after this game because there was something special about this particular win. Once that ball landed in Abate’s glove coach Lauterhahn, the man coaching his alma mater, earned his 200th victory.
Lauterhahn, in his tenth year as head coach of the Pioneers, has been with the baseball program a good part of his life. Not only did Lauterhahn play for WPU in his college years, he also served as a bat boy for the team when he was a kid. Little did he know he’d eventually be the man running the team and earning 200 wins. For Lauterhahn it was both a humble and prominent accomplishment.
“It was great to get the 200th win,” Lauterhahn said. “It goes under my name but to be honest there are so many people out there who are responsible for reaching that number that you can’t mention them all. But they all shared a piece of it and it’s great for the program.”
Lauterhahn began his coaching career in 2008, picking up his first win against Worcester State in the second game of a double header. In nine 40 game seasons, Lauterhahn has averaged more than 20 wins a season with the Pioneers. He joins a list of many other William Paterson coaches in many other sports that have been able to reach the 200 win mark.
Reaching 200 wins in any sport is impressive. Not many people who make that accomplishment are lucky enough to do it on the same team. Lauterhahn, a 1997 William Paterson graduate, was not only grateful that he was able to get all his wins with William Paterson but that he also got it with the team that’s been such a big part of his life.
Being around baseball for most of life, Lauterhahn made some great memories. One of his favorite baseball memories are when he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs.
“It was a pretty exciting time and it was an opportunity for me to take my baseball skills to a whole different level and test my abilities,” Lauterhahn said.
After being drafted Lauterhahn went on to play in West Virginia in the Appalachian Summer League. Lauterhahn played 60 games in the pros but eventually was released. Despite getting cut, he took positives out of his experience.
“I met some great people along the way.” Lauterhahn said. “Friends that I still stay in touch with today and learned a great deal about the game from some tremendous coaches.”
Lauterhahn also ranked becoming coach of William Paterson as one of his favorite baseball memories.
“I’ve grown up around the program. I’ve been around it for 37 years,” he said. “I started out as a bat boy, ended up being a player and now having the opportunity to run the program, that’s a special thing.”
Though he is happy to celebrate his 200th victory the Pioneers still got a long road ahead of them. Still relatively early in the season Lauterhan has big plans for William Paterson.
“The ultimate goal is to get to Appleton, WI and get us back to the times where we were consistently in the regional and getting the chance to win a national championship,” Lauterhahn said.