Torch passed, Craddock now ready to blaze his own trail

Torch passed, Craddock now ready to blaze his own trail
Tom Rife

After pitching and serving as an assistant coach at The College of Wooster, Barry Craddock has taken over the Fighting Scots’ baseball program from Tim Pettorini.

                        

A graduate of — and former pitcher for — The College of Wooster, Barry Craddock now has his dream job.

And even though his official title is “interim” head coach of the Fighting Scots baseball team, Tim Pettorini’s successor plans on keeping his spot in the dugout at Art Murray Field for many seasons to come.

“This is where I want to be for the rest of my career. I do not want to go to any other college,” the 48-year-old skipper said, comfortably seated at the desk in his intimate Scots Center office. “This is my home. My mom still lives here in Wayne County. My brother still lives here in Wayne County. And you know my future is here. This is where I plan to be for the rest of my life.”

Having invested three decades in Scots baseball, Craddock doesn’t think of the 2020 campaign as an audition.

“I first arrived on campus as a student in the fall of 1990. I was a four-year letterwinner here and got to pitch in a lot of games,” Craddock said. “So I’ve been to the World Series as a player, and I’ve been to the World Series as an assistant coach. Now as the head coach at my alma mater, the challenge ahead is to see if we can lead these guys back to the World Series again and see if we can finish it off.”

Of course it was Pettorini for whom Craddock played and Pettorini who served as the Scots’ field general for 38 springs. To say the torch has been passed is accurate, yet it was Craddock who played a critical role in the program’s groundbreaking success, having helped recruit championship-caliber student-athletes as Pettorini’s assistant.

This year’s roster has eight seniors, eight juniors, 11 sophomores and 16 freshmen, none of them categorized as strangers.

“I brought them all here. I was instrumental in every last one of them being here,” Craddock said. “So that gives you kind of a comfort zone. Sure, I mean, they know me. They’re familiar with me and know what I expect out of them.”

A native of nearby Rittman, Craddock earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the college. His dual stint as a Scots assistant went from 1996-99 and then from 2008-19. Most recently Craddock handled the program’s recruiting duties, worked closely with the pitchers, called the games and served as the third-base coach.

This isn’t “Doc’s” first rodeo as a head coach. From 2000-07 Craddock transformed the Denison University baseball program into a regular contender for championships in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Overall he compiled a school-record 183 victories (183-129).

Highlighting Craddock’s tenure, Denison produced a pair of 30-win seasons — 31-12 in 2003 and 31-7 in 2004 — and advanced to the finals of the NCAC tournament three times (2003, 2004 and 2005). The Big Red climbed to just one out away from capturing the title and earning a first trip to the NCAA tournament in 2005.

Denison was the ideal spot where Craddock could build his own program and add to his resume.

“A lot of what I did at Denison was part of the blueprint of what we do at Wooster. Certainly there are differences. You have personnel differences; the schools are different. The admissions philosophies are different in terms of where you find your players,” Craddock said.

Concerning Wooster, Craddock said, “I think our standards of admissions here are extremely high. And obviously the price tag is high. And that makes for a deep challenge. But I’ve always believed in all of our families and our parents who sacrificed so much to send their kids here to get a great education, to play baseball at a championship level. And I think it’s worth it. I think that in the final analysis our guys graduate prepared for the real world in a lot of different ways, not just because of their academic performances and what they accomplished in the classroom, but what they learned on the baseball field.”

Naturally Craddock feels a different level of excitement as the season begins and as he starts the task of walking in Pettorini’s cleat-prints.

“It’s not easy, but, and I do feel a responsibility, you know, toward Coach P, toward all of the former players including a lot of my teammates that I played with when I was here as a student-athlete, that we continue our tradition of playing winning baseball. Obviously I’ve had great teachers along the way and a great mentor. I didn’t just sit on the sidelines all those years,” Craddock said.

Concerning his coaching style, Craddock said, “I’m not going to try to be Coach P, and I don’t think he would want me to be. We’ve had those conversations, you know, and I have to coach to my personality, and it’s going to probably sound and look a little bit different. Maybe I will be a little bit more aggressive here or maybe a little bit more strategic there or whatever. I think until the games start, you’re not really gonna notice it until you see it in person.”

The Scots soon will depart Wooster for their traditional two-week spring trip to South Florida, where they will play 11 varsity games and four junior varsity contests. The journey to the Sunshine State should provide a great environment for team bonding and the tweaking of diamond skills.

“My expectations are that number one, we’re going to win a bunch of games. But also we’re going to come back home a better team. We’re going to be more efficient in every aspect. We’re going to be better defensively, be better communicators and also increase our advantage when it comes to offensive production and pitching depth,” Craddock said.

And so it’s batter up as the post-Pettorini era of Fighting Scots baseball begins.


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