A Homecoming Home Run
Returning home to his “dream job,” Mitch Thompson, one of the most highly respected coaches and recruiters in college baseball, was selected as Baylor’s 20th head baseball coach, announced June 15.
A former Baylor assistant for nearly two decades, Thompson helped lead the Bears during the most prolific stretch in program history from 1995 to 2012. Since 2014, Thompson has built Waco’s own McLennan Community College into one of the nation’s premier junior college programs, coming off back-to-back JUCO World Series appearances, including the 2021 national title.
The following is an excerpt from his June 24 interview on Sic ’Em Podcast, the official podcast of Baylor Athletics, hosted by the Voice of the Bears and Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcasting John Morris, B.A. ’80, and Associate Director of BaylorVision Brooke Bednarz.
What was it like for you to get up there and officially be named head coach for Baylor baseball?
“It was really cool. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time and to get the chance to speak to everybody and share with them the vision that we have for the program and how we’re going to go about doing things and why I’m here and why I believe this is the greatest place on earth. It was a fun day; I’ll just be honest with you. It was fun and hopefully we fired some people up and they’re looking forward to getting season tickets and looking forward to joining the Heart of the Order. Let’s build this thing up.”
You laid down the gauntlet a little bit there to get folks out to fill up Baylor Ballpark.
“I just know that we have a special place and we had a special thing going in the past. I remember that ballpark being full on Tuesday nights. I remember being top 20 in the country on a yearly basis. I know that these people will support us if we’ll ask them, if we’ll get them there, if we’ll give them something that they like to watch, and as a team if we really get out there and compete, they’ll show back up. So, they can help me get the team there, help me recruit the team, help me do all those things while we’re getting good. And then when we’re really good, they’re gonna be glad that they’re there.”
What’s it like stepping back into Baylor Ballpark now?
“Well, it’s neat. It’s just super special to me to think that I’m the head coach here now and that this has happened. There’s no other way to say it than the good Lord had it, had it in his plan and he knew it. I mentioned that today at the press conference that God is good and His timing is perfect, and this is the right time. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t, and we couldn’t make it happen if He didn’t want it to be. So, it’s been special. When I walk in there every day now, I’m just in awe.”
Does going from coaching at the JUCO level to now a D1 head coach help you relate to some of the guys you are now recruiting to come to Baylor?
“The JUCO route teaches you a lot. Sometimes you’re eating peanut butter and jelly. It makes you appreciate what you have and makes you appreciate and notice all the stuff around you as to how the school is investing in you and how the program’s investing in you. We had great things over at McLennan. We did things the right way and the administration allowed us to do them right. This was special to get back over here and to go, ‘Oh my gosh.’ But we can’t get away from that. We need to have respect for the peanut butter and jelly. We need to have that respect for the little stuff. When you get guys all paying attention to that and being grateful; it goes along with what Scott Drew is talking about — JOY and taking great joy in being here; what a great opportunity. We’ve got a lot to sell, no question.”
You have not shied away from saying that this is your dream job and this is where you wanted to be. What is it about Baylor that made it your dream job?
“We invested so much time over 18 years here. We moved to Waco 27 years ago and I hope I never leave. These people here in Central Texas are awesome people and Baylor’s such a unique place. The world needs Baylor. We’re not A&M, we’re not Texas – and we’re not trying to be. We’re Baylor and we’re trying to compete against them in different ways, but they’re not trying to be us and that’s okay. We think we have something really special. We don’t run away from our Christian mission at all. We don’t run away from that part of who we are and I love that. I love being able to share that with our guys. As a Christian, if I truly say that I love my players, how can I go about pouring into their lives and not talk about their eternal destination and talk about their heart and their soul? How can I not be concerned about that if I truly love them? So, this is a place that gives us the opportunity to do that and to not shy away from it or back down from it at all. This is a unique place. There’s no other place like it. Playing in the Big 12, you play big boy athletics. You play at a place that you can win championships and win national championships. We’ve got a great city. We’ve got a great, great town, a great state. What’s not to like?”
This is just really exciting to have you back at Baylor. We appreciate you and are glad you’re back home.
“Can’t tell you how happy I am — blessed by God. Amber and the girls and I are just thrilled. This is home and I appreciate everybody. I’m looking forward to shaking everybody’s hand and getting everybody out to the Baylor Ballpark.”
Since April 2020, the Sic ’Em Podcast has offered long-form interviews with student-athletes, coaches, administration and support staff from across the Baylor Athletics department. Hosted by Morris and Bednarz, the series has built a catalog of nearly 90 episodes and over 50 hours of interview content. For more, visit baylorbears.com/podcast.