Baseball coach Steve Farley has been at Butler University for longer than many of his players have been alive.
Farley will kick off his 21st season with the Bulldogs when the team takes on Fresno State on Friday.
During Farley’s 21 years at Butler, he has amassed 484 wins and guided the team to five league championship games and a pair of NCAA tournament bids.
“If you would have said [that I would have been here for 21 years], I wouldn’t have guessed it,” he said.
Prior to becoming a coach , Farley played the typical trifecta of boys’ sports in high school: football, basketball and baseball.
Farley’s devotion to baseball grew at the University of Minnesota. There, he was a left-handed pitcher for the Golden Gophers.
Farley then became a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona. He coached under the tutelage of Jerry Kindall, who had a 10-year career in the big leagues and led Arizona to three College World Series titles.
“I copied what had worked for the teams in Arizona,” Farley said. “It was such a blessing for me [to be there].”
Farley’s first full-time coaching opportunity was at West Point Academy as a pitching coach. That served as an eventual springboard to a head coaching position at Davis and Elkins College three years later.
Farley’s next stop would be Butler, where the baseball team’s head coaching position opened up in 1991.
Farley said he was “very fortunate” to land the job, especially considering that his wife now works at Butler as well.
Farley was taking the reins of a team that “wasn’t very good at the time,” but said he knew it was “something to go to work on.”
His work paid off quickly, as his first recruiting class went on to win the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Championship as seniors in 1996.
And while the team and its available resources have changed, Farley has remained a Bulldog.
“I remember shoveling snow off of Hinkle’s parking lot just to play catch,” Farley said. “I’m grateful to the guys back then for that.”
Junior outfielder Andrew Eckhardt said the key to Farley’s success is his ability to connect to players.
“Playing under [coach] Farley is very enjoyable,” Eckhardt said. “He cares about everyone on the team and would always be willing to help us with any problems we would have.”
Pitching coach DJ Throneburg, who is entering his second season with the team, said he has observed as much in his short time here.
“The fact that he can relate and joke around with the guys is huge,” Throneburg said. “Guys are comfortable, and that makes them want to keep playing for him.”
The defining moment of Farley’s coaching career is easy for him to pinpoint.
“Making it to the NCAA tournament in 2000,” Farley said. “We had to win two games against an undefeated University of Illinois-Chicago team, and we did.
“The tournament was held at the University of Minnesota, and going back to the field where I played [college baseball] was pretty special.”