Puhl reaches century mark in fourth season at UHV
Feb. 23, 2011 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 22, 2011 at 8:23 p.m.
The University of Houston-Victoria is fortunate Terry Puhl didn't realize how far Victoria was from Sugar Land.
Puhl wanted to return to baseball as a coach on the college level after a successful major league career with the Houston Astros.
But Puhl had established a successful business and didn't want to travel far from his home when he met with UHV officials to talk about beginning a program in the 2008 season.
"I had a radius of where I could go from Sugar Land and this was the outer limits," Puhl said. "I used to come hunting in Victoria and my buddy would always drive and I never realized it, but he must have went 110 miles per hour."
Puhl has gone full speed ahead since agreeing to get in on the ground floor of the program.
The Jaguars went 29-2 in their first season, won consecutive American Independent Institutions tournament championships in 2009 and 2010, and came within a win of advancing to the NAIA World Series last season.
Puhl picked up career win No. 100 when UHV defeated Bellvue University 9-4 on Friday in Plainview.
He will take a record of 101-52 into the Jaguars' next game at Northwood University on March 4.
Puhl's record includes seven games coached by former Houston Astros manager Phil Garner, who took over the team when Puhl left to coach Team Canada in the 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament.
"It's been everything I thought it would be from the standpoint of NAIA baseball," said Puhl before the Jaguars' 7-3 loss to NCAA Division II St. Mary's on Tuesday at Riverside Stadium. "Hopefully, we can get that big push going with the university slash fields, slash everything to get this up to a higher level program and maybe NCAA Division II.
"That's the whole goal to bring a high level of baseball as high as we can get it here and you'll be able to attract a higher level of player."
Puhl uses the contacts he developed playing professional baseball for 15 seasons to attract the best possible players and he expects them to perform up to standards on and off the field.
"I really believe it's a growing up process, a maturing process that they have to go through," Puhl said. "This year's been a little bit different with the freshmen because I have to handle them a little bit different. A little bit more gentle.
"Some of the previous years with junior college players, they're very mature coming out. They've been around the block a little bit and I think that they appreciate when you treat them like young men. They perform in that fashion. One of the first things I tell them is there's no babysitting in here. I'm here to play baseball and win ballgames."
Senior David Baker has played for Puhl since the program's inception and appreciates his coaching methods.
"The way he carries himself the rest of the team picks up on that and they have the same mentality and that's a good thing," Baker said. "He leaves it entirely up to us. If we want to get better, get better. You've got to be disciplined and respect the game and I think that's the best way to do it."
Puhl, 54, is not sure how much longer he'll continue to coach at UHV.
He enjoys what he's doing, but wants to see improvements so the program continues to grow.
"I want to see appreciation from the school standpoint," Puhl said. "What I mean by appreciation is I want to see the school get behind the athletic programs, don't feel like we're dormant. I want to see improvement on how the athletic department is handled.
"From the standpoint of how we're viewed in Victoria, I feel this field that we play on since we first started playing has gone kind of backwards and I don't like that," he added. "I think you go to other fields and what they're playing on and this is way below standards for a college program. Not just the city of Victoria, that's the university also. the two have to ante up at the plate."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.