'Dream come true' Astros legend tapped to lead Houston university's baseball program

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Monday, May 31, 2021
Astros legend Lance Berkman tapped for HBU head baseball coach
Known as "Big Puma" in his playing days, Lance Berkman will take the helm at HBU, where the athletes will be learning from a six-time All-Star! ⚾

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Astros legend Lance Berkman will take the helm of the baseball team at Houston Baptist University, calling the role a "dream come true."

The former Houston star was introduced as head coach during a press conference on Monday morning.

"This has kind of been a dream come true for me," Berkman said, proudly sporting his orange and blue HBU cap. "When you retire from playing... you feel like in some ways, it's like a death. Your career ended, and you're like, 'Oh now who am I? Now what am I doing?' This is a great chance for me to have a second career, and I'm taking it as seriously as I did my playing career."

Berkman said the gig is the right opportunity for him at the right time, adding that HBU is an "underrated and underappreciated university."

"The thing that I really like about it, it's a place that combines faith and education, which are two things that I think are critically important in development of young men, so the opportunity to develop people in their faith, in their education, and on the baseball field, it's a rare opportunity that combines three things that I'm passionate about," he continued.

Berkman, known as "Big Puma" during his playing days, spent his career in an Astros uniform from 1999 to 2010.

He spent 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, also suiting up for the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.

The first baseman won a World Series championship with the Cardinals in 2011, the same year he earned the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Berkman, who went on to become a six-time All-Star, was drafted in the first round by Houston.

Now that Berkman is leading at the collegiate level, he already started to talk about the staff he wants on his team.

"I want young guys that are eager that'll really work. The name of the game is recruiting," he said. "In my opinion, if you had to pick one city in America, if you just said, hey, there's one city in all of America that you could only recruit there. It would be Houston. The baseball talent is off the chart."

Prior to joining HBU, Berkman served as the assistant baseball coach at the University of St. Thomas in Jan. 2021.

In 2019, Berkman resigned from his job as head coach at Second Baptist, where he worked for four years and won a Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state title in his first season.

A Waco, Texas, native Berkman has long been synonymous with baseball in the Bayou City.

He spent his college career at Rice, helping to lead the Owls to their first-ever College Baseball World Series.

Berkman was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock in June 2015.

In recent weeks, a number of college baseball head coaching jobs have become available at Texas universities, including at Berkman's alma mater.

Rice coach Matt Bragga was fired last week after three seasons.

Texas A&M's Rob Childress was also relieved of his duties following 16 years with that baseball program.

Though outside of Texas, LSU also now has a vacancy in its head baseball coach position after longtime coach Paul Mainieri announced his retirement last Friday.

With the HBU Huskies, Berkman will be taking over for Jared Moon, who led the baseball team for 16 seasons.

Moon announced on May 25 that he'd be stepping down and the search for the next coach began immediately.

Moon was the Huskies' all-time winningest baseball coach.

You can watch Berkman's introductory press conference in the video player above.