Jack McDowell is a former Major League Baseball pitcher, and a good one at that. After all, he won the American League Cy Young award in 1993, an award given to the best pitcher in his league for the given year. Since his retirement from professional baseball, he has stayed with the game in the coaching field. He has coached in the Charlotte area, where he and his family lives, for years. He managed minor league teams for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 and 2015. Now, he is the head baseball coach for the Queens University of Charlotte Royals.
McDowell first heard that Queens was looking to start a baseball program a couple of years ago. Seeing an opportunity to remain close to home, he emailed Cherie Swarthout, athletic director of Queens, a copy of his resume. At the time, Queens was not starting its baseball program just yet, and he forgot about it.
A year later Queens was ready to begin baseball. Swarthout contacted him for what he initially thought was just going to be a consulting role in building a program, but instead it was a role which would require far greater involvement. McDowell would not be a consultant, he would be the first ever head coach of Queens University of Charlotte’s baseball team.
This is McDowell’s first time dipping into the college level, meaning just about everything is a new experience. So far, this new experience has been a breath of fresh for him. While coaching in the minor leagues, there were people above him telling him what to do and how to coach, now he has freedom.
“Being able to coach how I want is the biggest plus [to coaching in college],” he said. In a new program, that freedom is a lot of power.
As the first coach and team in the history of Queens baseball, McDowell and his players have the opportunity to set tradition for the program. “Everything we do is putting a stamp on it forever,” he said.
While creating a program means getting to set traditions, it also means there is more to do on the recruiting front. McDowell estimates that he has to recruit three times as many players as a school normally would, in addition to open tryouts he may hold for current Queens students.
Any players on the team won’t be competing for conference or national titles for a little while. The baseball team will be a club team until 2019, and McDowell doesn’t want to waste any time playing for those titles when the team is in the NCAA. His eyes are set on Queens starting off as one of the best teams in their conference, a conference that is one of the better baseball conferences in Division-II.
For students more interested in watching the baseball team than playing for it, baseball games can be caught at the park along Park Road, where the softball team has played. So when baseball season rolls around, feel free to catch a ride and watch some of the school’s newest student-athletes in action.