July 10, 2003
Former Notre Dame baseball player Cory Mee (’92) – who served on the Irish coaching staff during six seasons (’93, ’95-99) before spending the last four years as the top assistant at Michigan State – has been named the head baseball coach at the University of Toledo, becoming the second former Notre Dame assistant in a span of three days to be named a Division I head coach (Brian O’Connor was named the head coach at Virginia on July 8.
Mee joins Navy’s Steve Whitmyer (’82) as the second former Notre Dame baseball player currently among the Division I head coaching ranks (Whitmyer just completed his third season leading the Midshipmen).
Mainieri’s coaching tree now includes three current Division I head coaches who have served on his coaching staffs (also Evansville’s Dave Schrage), in addition to Detroit Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila – with both Schrage and Avila serving on Mainieri’s coaching staff’s at St. Thomas (Fla.) University in the mid-1980s. Mainieri’s top assistant at Air Force, Eric Campbell, later served as the Falcons head coach before moving to a position with USA Baseball.
“Cory is a perfect fit for Rocket baseball,” Toledo athletic directir Mike O’Brien said. “I feel that he brings tremendous experience and recruiting ability to Toledo. I’m excited to have someone with his knowledge and passion for baseball join the Toledo family.”
“I’m very honored and excited to become the head baseball coach at the University of Toledo,” said Mee, whose resume holds the unique distinction of having played and/or coached in the Horizon League (formerly MCC), the BIG EAST, the Big Ten and now the Mid-American Conference.
“My goal is to create a program that the players, university, alumni and the community can all be proud of. I could really sense the passion shown by the people involved with the university and the program when I came on campus, and I realized the level of committment and support they have for the program.”
Mee joined O’Connor as the assistant coaches on Mainieri’s first five Notre Dame teams (’95-’99), with Mee’s primary duties including catcher instruction and assisting Mainieri with the Irish hitters. He tutored four catchers – Bob Lisanti, Mike Amrhein, Jeff Wagner and Paul O’Toole – who earned all-conference honors during their Irish careers while he helped shape a five-year span in which the ND hitters averaged a .315 team batting average and 65 home runs per season, highlighted by a breakthrough 1997 season that included team records in batting (.334), slugging percentage (.529), home runs (66, bested by 73 in ’98 and 70 in ’99) and doubles (127, now third).
The most noteworthy individual feats by Irish players during Mee’s five-year tenure include: the top career home run totals in the program’s history (49 by Wagner, 47 by All-American Brant Ust in his three seasons, and 37 by Amrhein); Ust’s .676 career slugging pct. that remains the ND record (Wagner is 4th at .634); Scott Sollmann’s .372 career batting avg. (good for 4th, with Ust 5th at .368); Sollmann’s .522 career on-base pct. (2nd all-time); and Amrhein’s 202 career RBI (4th); and Sollmann’s record-setting 24 career doubles.
Hitters coached by Mee also posted what remain some of the top offensive seasons in the program’s history, most notably: Sollmann in ’95 (.406 batting, 73 R, 11 3B), Randall Brooks in ’96 (.396 batting, 7 3B), Amrhein in ’97 (.394 batting, 14 HR, 71 RBI, 33 BB, just 17 Ks); Ryan Topham in ’95 (.335 batting, 18 HR, 79 RBI, .733 slugging, 35 BB); Ust in ’98 (.373 batting, 18 HR, .724 slugging); and Wagner in ’97 (.374 batting, 17 HR, 69 RBI, .712 slugging, 21 2B).
Mee was an Academic All-American and four-year monogram winner at Notre Dame (’89-’92), playing third base, catcher and second base while helping the Irish make NCAA Tournament appearances in 1989 and ’92. A member of the winningest class in the program’s history with a 187-62-1 four-year record (bested by the 188 wins by the class of 2001 and 190 by the ’02 class), Mee’s teammates included future Major Leaguers Dan Peltier, Craig Counsell and Chris Michalak, plus several others who are firmly entrenched in the ND record book (among them Eric Danapilis, Pat Pesavento, Frank Jacobs, David Sinnes and Tom Price).
In addition to still holding the Irish record for career sacrifice bunts (47), Mee ended his career ranked third in the ND record book for games played (219, now ninth), fifth in RBI (164, now 12th) and sixth in walks (104, now 11th) while posting a .303 career batting average with six home runs.
After graduating with a 3.3 cumulative GPA as a biology major, Mee signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and played for the Yakima Bears in the Northwest League. He returned to his alma mater in 1993 as a volunteer assistant and then spent the 1994 season as an assistant coach at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Mee’s responsibilities at Michigan State included serving as the hitting and catching instructor, recruiting coordinator and baserunning instructor, as well as assisting with academic advising, fundraising and summer baseball camps. The 2002 Spartans posted 38 wins, the most at MSU since 1994, with that ’02 team finishing fourth in the nation with a .344 team batting average while setting team records in hits, home runs, doubles and runs scored.
Mee, a native of Hilton, N.Y., and his wife, Susan, have two daughters, Reilly (3) and McKenna (2).