Ardmore – Lower Merion High School’s new baseball coach Tim Gunn hopes to build a winning tradition similar to the one he had the past six years as Germantown Friends’ School head coach.
In his first season in 2012, the Tigers won the Friends’ Schools League title, and participated in the FSL playoffs every year since.
“Coming to Lower Merion is a new challenge,” said Gunn. “They’ve struggled recently (posted a 6-12 record last year) but I have seen the talent there and potential for a thriving baseball program. Their players are motivated and there is discussion about the potential for a baseball and softball field on campus. I am impressed with the level of support and dedication the program is getting.”
When Gunn recently held a voluntary Sunday morning workout at 8 a.m. recently for the prospective Lower Merion players, two dozen players showed up, a pleasant surprise for the new coach.
“They all showed up ready and on time,” said Gunn. “I have been impressed with the commitment level and unity within the program thus far. Now it is my role to build on that.”
Gunn, who is retaining last year’s pitching coach (Art Wharton) and JV coach (Matt Schwartz, a Lower Merion grad) has a solid background as a hitting instructor. After his playing career as a hard-hitting first baseman for Saint Joseph’s University, he served as the Hawks’ hitting coach under Sean Pender (now with the Cincinnati Reds) and is currently the lead hitting instructor at Top Gunn Baseball (www.topgunnbaseball.com).
Gunn noted that, in teaching hitting, there is a different challenge with every age group.
“With youths ages 8-10, it is usually mechanics; at age 11-13, it involves some fundamentals and cleaning up their swing; and at 14-18 it’s learning a solid approach and increasing bat speed and power,” said Gunn. “The mental aspect of hitting is taught at all levels and most likely the most challenging part, and I didn’t grasp it until halfway through my junior year at Saint Joseph’s.”
Gunn likes disciplined hitters, particularly Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.
“He’s my favorite hitter, because he chokes up with two strikes and hits to all fields,” said Gunn. “He drops his ego and gets the job done. He’s one of the few players who has more walks than strikeouts every season.”
Gunn also coaches summer baseball teams for Miller Baseball and Diamond Baseball Academy in Norristown. Through Miller Baseball, Gunn has coached several of the Lower Merion players, including Therein Moore, Alec Deegan, Marek D’Alonzo and freshman Danny Hofferman.
Gunn’s coaching career stretches over two decades. In the summer of 2001, Gunn coached the Brooklawn (southern New Jersey) American Legion program that won the National Championship with a final record of 56-4. In the summer of 2005, Gunn coached in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League with the Brewster Whitecaps.
“One of the scariest moments I have ever witnessed on a ballfield was in a [Cape Cod League] game against Tim Lincecum – he was no-hitting us through three innings, and our cleanup hitter hit a ball directly off of his head,” said Gunn. “Lincecum got right up and walked off the field which was surprising. And later that evening we saw him at a restaurant with a bag of ice on his head.”
After serving as the hitting coach at St. Joseph’s, Gunn moved on to Swarthmore College from 2009-2011, where as an assistant coach he helped the team make the NCAA Division III playoffs for the first time in school history.
From 2002-2005, Gunn served as assistant coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Arcadia University. In his tenure, the Knights broke nearly every offensive record in the school’s history. He led the team on an international trip to London in 2002. In 2004, the Knights won the Pennsylvania Athletics Conference and were two games away from the College World Series. They finished ranked 28th in the nation, and two of the players he recruited went on to be elected into the Arcadia University Sports Hall Of Fame.
For a couple of years, he was the head coach In the Summer Wood Bat program at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and coached a youth team in the 2014 Good Will Games in Australia.
This spring, Gunn plans to host a few Lower Merion Baseball Clinics for Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Welsh Valley Middle School, as well as Lower Merion Little League.
The first Lower Merion Baseball Clinic, presented by the Lower Merion Baseball Booster Club, will be held in Lower Merion’s Downs Gymnasium March 18 from 3-5 p.m. for youths ages 7-12. Cost is $30. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the clinic. There is also a plan for a summer clinic.
After the Lower Merion High School baseball season this spring, Gunn will serve as assistant coach of the Narberth American Legion program this summer. He also will coach the Miller Baseball 17U Showcase team, and run clinics throughout the area