Like most coaches, Ed Blankmeyer of St. John’s baseball believes in the “one-game-at-a-time” mantra.
And it has served him well. With his Red Storm qualifying for the NCAA Tournament by claiming the Big East Championship on Sunday, he needs only three wins to reach 800 career victories at the helm of one of the country’s most storied programs. The Red Storm will face Vanderbilt at noon Friday in the first game of the Clemson Regional in South Carolina.
“I’ll enjoy it when I get to it,” Blankmeyer told amNewYork of the milestone. “But I don’t think about those things.
“You could also talk about my 400 losses,” he added, with a laugh. “I’ve coached a lot of baseball.”
Indeed, he has. Under Blankmeyer’s guidance since 1996, St. John’s has now won five Big East titles and made 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. In all, the program has made it to 37 NCAA Tournaments and reached the College World Series six times, the last in 1980 under Blankmeyer’s predecessor, Joe Russo.
St. John’s has had only three head baseball coaches since 1956 — Blankmeyer, Russo and the legendary Jack Kaiser (for whom the Red Storm’s ballpark is named). While Blankmeyer has always been quick to credit the men who came before him, he has left his own stamp on the program. He has already surpassed both Russo (612) and Kaiser (366) in victories, and is the winningest coach in the history of the Big East. In January, he was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Like Russo and Kaiser, Blankmeyer has guided a number of Red Storm players into professional baseball — most notably Joe Panik, the San Francisco Giants second baseman and Yonkers native. The program also produced former Mets pitchers Frank Viola and John Franco.
“Coach Blankmeyer was very important in my development, not only as a ballplayer but as a person,” Panik told amNewYork. “He stressed preparation and work ethic. Those are things that you can take with you throughout your baseball career and anything else you do in life.”
“We’ve gotten a lot of good players, which is important to me, of course,” Blankmeyer said. “But we’ve produced not just baseball players here, but good men. You can talk about all the stats and the wins, but it’s about developing good people. And I’m proud of the players we’ve had come through here.”