Dr. Dirk Baker begins his 23rd season as head coach of the Worcester State baseball team. Coach Baker is the winningest coach in the history of the program as he has a career record of 497-354-1 (.584).
This past season, Baker led his team to a 7-7 conference record and a No. 4 seed in the MASCAC tournament. Baker’s team finished the season strong as they went 4-0 in the MASCAC tournament to claim the team’s sixth all-time MASCAC Tournament title. With the title, the Lancers automatically earned a bid into the NCAA Division III Regional tournament – their seventh all-time appearance.
During the 2014 campaign, the Lancers captured their fifth MASCAC Tournament Championship while also sharing the MASCAC Regular Season title and making an appearance in the NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional. For his efforts Coach Baker was honored as the MASCAC Coach of the Year.
In 2010, Coach Baker helped the Lancers complete their second consecutive 30-win season as they captured the MASCAC Tournament championship and earned an appearance in the NCAA Division III New England regionals. Coach Baker has helped WSU produce 20-win campaigns in 14 out of the last 18 years including a school-record 33-9 mark in 2002 en route to MASCAC Co-Coach of the Year honors.
In 2002, 2005 and 2008, Coach Baker also directed the squad to MASCAC conference tournament titles and NCAA Division III Tournament appearances while the 2002, 2005 and 2009 teams all earned regular season titles. The Lancers were also ECAC New England Tournament runners-up in 1999, 2001 and 2009, semifinalists in 2000 and participants in 2011. Baker has career record of 169-91 (.650) against MASCAC opponents.
Coach Baker has coached five MASCAC Players of the Year, three All-Americans and one CO-SIDA Academic All-American. Four different Lancers have also led the NCAA Division III in statistical categories which have included Jason Akana in 1996 (Batting - .514), Eric Swedberg in 2000 (Slugging – 1.060), Matt Heenan in 2001 (Doubles per game – 0.59) and Chad Cosby in 2003 (ERA – 0.96).
Tim Stronach was a 22nd round draft pick of the Mets in the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft and Nate Nelson went in the 40th round to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. Four other Lancers have played Professional baseball. In 2001, Swedberg played for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League as an outfielder and catcher while Baker piloted the Bourne Braves in summer of 2002.
Swedberg and Tim Leonard were also recipients of the prestigious Howard C. Smith Award, given out to the top senior scholar student-athlete in the MASCAC. Swedberg was also a recipient of a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and two baseball players have represented Worcester State at the NCAA Leadership Conference.
Since taking the reins of the program in 1995, Coach Baker has been involved in running the recruiting, practice organization, game operations, academic monitoring, game scheduling, fundraising, strength & conditioning, clinics and fall practice. Coach Baker started the annual senior days, a family and alumni day and since 1999 he has helped organize an alumni golf tournament. Baker runs numerous camps and clinics throughout the year to help fundraiser for the team’s annual trip to Florida.
Coach Baker was a standout player at Auburn High that won the school’s first Central Massachusetts title in his senior year in 1987. Coach Baker had four last-inning game-winning hits en route to a 22-2 record as he set school records for average, RBIs and doubles. He was a recipient of the Jacques Award which is given for sportsmanship, loyalty and teamwork. Coach Baker was also awarded the first-ever Bill Peters Umpires Scholarship.
A 1991 graduate of Boston University, Coach Baker originally cut as a freshman from the varsity squad, worked his way onto the junior varsity, to platooning until he eventually became the team’s every-day leftfielder and designated hitter. Coach Baker was a three-year starter, a two-year captain and a Division I NEIBA All-Star. He set single-season records for homers, walks and he started in 130 consecutive games. Upon graduation he was distinguished with the most Outstanding Senior Baseball Player. Coach Baker received his Masters of Human Movement from BU in 1993 and his Doctorate in Curriculum & Teaching in 1998.
After matriculating from Boston University, Coach Baker was a volunteer assistant coach at Harvard University in 1993 and 1994. While working for the Crimson, Coach Baker helped coach two Ivy League Players of the Year. In 1995, Coach Baker had a brief stop at Commonwealth Avenue as the hitting coach at BU. Coach Baker also coached Senior Babe Ruth in 1994 and most recently for both the West Boylston (2001, 2003-07) and East Side (1995-96, 2008-09) Legion squads during the summer.
Coach Baker is on the road recruiting year-round. Such events have included the Senior Ruth World Series, the MIAA State Finals, the Legion Tournament Northeast Regional’s, Senior Ruth Regional’s, Top 96 and Perfect Games showcases. Coach Baker has also been a guest lecturer at the MBCA convention, the Auburn Little League, at Salem High and for the Grafton Hill Legion team.
Coach Baker is the author of three books which include: A Baseball Town --- 15 Years of Championships in Auburn, MA (1995), Baseball Drills for Young People: 180 Games & Activities (McFarland, 2002/2008), Teaching Hitting (Ibid, 2005). Coach Baker also has published six articles in Collegiate Baseball Magazine on the topics of hitting, fundraising, recruiting & camps and a pair of editorials appeared in the ABCA Coaching Digest and Yankee Magazine. Baker has also released a DVD, “Baseball Games for Kids” (2008) and the children’s book, Good Ole Mr. Pole (2006).
Coach Baker is a full-time staff assistant at the University, as he is an assistant fitness center manager and also oversees the departments’ 50+ work study students. Coach Baker has also taught at WSU as an adjunct professor.
Coach Baker is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ACBA), the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA), Mass High School Coaches Association, the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association (MBCA) and the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA).