University of Louisville baseball head coach Dan McDonnell announced on Tuesday the hiring of former Illinois associate head coach Eric Snider as an assistant coach with the Cardinals.
Snider will serve as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for Louisville during its inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2015. A highly successful recruiter with an aggressive offensive philosophy, Snider arrives in Louisville following 16 seasons on the coaching staff at Illinois, including the last six years as associate head coach.
“Eric is recognized as one of the top hitting coaches, recruiters and baseball minds in the country. When you talk to people in professional baseball, other college coaches and high school and AAU coaches, there is a consistent theme from everyone on his success – it is hard work and his ability to treat people the right way,” said McDonnell, who guided Louisville to its third College World Series berth in his eight seasons as head coach in 2014. “His offensive approach of putting pressure on a defense is something we’re not only very comfortable with, but a philosophy we embrace at Louisville. He is one of the most respected and knowledgeable coaches in the nation and we’re excited to have him joining our program.”
Snider helped lead Illinois to NCAA Regional appearances in 2011 (advanced to final of Fullerton Regional) and 2013 (Nashville Regional) as well as the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles in 2011. As associate head coach, he was instrumental in recruiting for the Fighting Illini while also coordinating the team’s offense and hitting instruction. He also worked with the Illini infielders and outfielders, directed the off-season conditioning program for the entire squad, served as the third-base coach and was responsible for placing the Illini in summer leagues across the country.
“I want to thank Coach McDonnell for giving me and my family the opportunity to join this great baseball program. My objective is to do everything I can to build upon the winning tradition that has already been established at the University of Louisville and to work each day to take this program to unseen heights,” Snider said. “It’s truly exciting to have this chance and it’s a credit to all of the hard work we’ve done at the University of Illinois. Honestly, it took my breath away when this chance came to me and I can’t wait to get started.”
During the 2014 season, Illinois posted its best Big Ten record (17-7) during the conference’s 24-game schedule era, finishing in third place and playing in the Big Ten Tournament. Six Illini earned All-Big Ten honors, while shortstop Adam Walton was named a Freshman All-American.
In 2013, Snider coached All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year Justin Parr, who broke the school-record with a 33-game hitting streak and finished the season with a .398 average. Four position players earned All-Big Ten honors, highlighted by Justin Parr, David Kerian and Thomas Lindauer on the First Team and Jordan Parr on the Second Team.
Snider has led the Illini offense to batting averages of better than .300 in nine of his 16 seasons, including a .335 mark in 2008. He also has coached the Illinois defense to fielding percentages of better than .960 in 15 of his 16 years and marks over .965 in 10 campaigns, including a school-record .973 in 2011, a .972 mark in 2012 and a .971 percentage in 2013.
Under his tutelage, the Illini also led the NCAA in double plays per game in 2012 with 1.3. In addition, the Illini’s 2008 offense broke school records for hits, runs, RBIs, doubles and walks in a Big Ten season, and fell just three stolen bases short of breaking that record in a conference season.
Snider has been instrumental in Illinois’ aggressive offensive approach, including a large number of stolen bases. The 2007 squad posted the most steals in a season in 25 years, swiping 109-of-143 bags. The Illini stole 101 bases in 2008, while the 2010 squad was even better stealing 114-of-144 bases. In 2013, the Illini finished 115-of-143 in stolen bases, marking the second-most steals in school history behind only the school-record mark of 150.
Snider began his Illini tenure by recruiting three Freshman All-Americans in four years in Andy Schutzenhofer (2000), Drew Davidson (2002) and Eric Eymann (2003). Schutzenhofer was a four-time All-Big Ten honoree, finished in the career top-10 in 11 offensive categories, won the 2003 Big Ten Medal of Honor and signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. Davidson was the 2005 Big Ten Player of the year, ranks third on the career homers and sixth on the career total bases lists and was drafted by the San Diego Padres. Eymann hit .359 with a team-high 15 doubles and 71 hits en route to Freshman All-America and All-Big Ten second team honors in 2003.
Recruiting paydirt came again for Snider at Illinois with Freshman All-Americans in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014. In 2008, Snider brought in Casey McMurray, who hit .331 on the way to becoming a Freshman All-American, and he landed Willie Argo, who became a Freshman All-American in 2009 when he hit .355 with 12 homers, 47 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Second baseman/pitcher Reid Roper collected Freshman All-America honors in 2012 when he served as Illinois’ closer, going 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA and three saves – including a 0.75 ERA as a reliever – and hitting .293 with nine doubles, one homer, 20 RBIs and 32 runs. Shortstop Adam Walton became the most recent Illini to earn Freshman All-American honors in 2014, leading the Illini with a .329 average and posting an 18-game hitting streak.
Another member of the 2003 class who Snider recruited was not as heralded initially, but catcher Chris Robinson, a native of London, Ontario, Canada, became the highest-drafted position player in Illinois history when he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round in 2005. He has since gone on to play for Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics and reached the MLB in 2013 before retiring.
Snider struck gold once again with a catcher from north of the border when he brought in Alberta native Lars Davis to replace Robinson behind the dish. Davis exploded in the 2007 season, hitting .400, earning All-America honors by three organizations and being selected as the Big Ten Player of the Year. He then followed in Robinson’s footsteps, being drafted in the third round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies.
Overall, 27 position players have made the jump to professional baseball since Snider joined the Illinois staff. That list includes Jon Anderson, Chris Basak, Dan O’Neill, Craig Marquie and D.J. Svihlik. Patrick Arlis joined that group after being drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 11th round of the 2002 draft. Three Illini position players signed as free agents in 2003, as center fielder Brandon Cashman inked a deal with Texas, Sean Patrick signed with Baltimore and Schutzenhofer joined the Cardinals. In 2005, five position players were either drafted (Robinson, Davidson and shortstop Toby Gardenhire) or signed free agent contracts.
In 2007, two Fighting Illini position players were drafted and one more Illini signed a professional deal. Davis and Roof were selected during the two-day draft, while Mike Rohde signed a free agent contract. Hudson made the jump in 2008 as he was drafted in the fourth round by the Baltimore Orioles. Most recently, shortstop Brandon Wikoff was a fifth-round draft pick by the Houston Astros in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft, third baseman Dominic Altobelli was taken in the 16th round by Colorado and center fielder Joe Bonadonna was a 43rd-round pick by the Texas Rangers.
In the 2011 MLB Draft, catcher Adam Davis was an 11th-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles and shortstop Josh Parr was taken in the 12th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Willie Argo was a 22nd-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays as a senior in 2012, the third time in his career that he was drafted. Most recently, three Illini position players were selected in the 2013 MLB Draft, highlighted by Justin Parr being taken in the eighth round by the Phillies. Jordan Parr went in the 15th round to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Thomas Lindauer was taken by the Astros in the 23rd round.
Prior to joining the Illini, Snider was the head coach and general manager of the Waterloo Bucks, a summer collegiate league team that competes in the Northwoods League, from 1995-98. He compiled a record of 163-90 (.644) over the four years and was twice named Northwoods League Manager of the Year. Snider was honored in 2004 for his contribution to the NWL by being named to the NWL All-Decade team.
Other coaching stints for Snider included serving as an assistant at Austin Peay from 1992-95, working as the manager of the Champaign County Colts in the Central Illinois Collegiate League in 1992-93 and serving as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Iowa from 1990-92.
A two-year letterwinner at Northern Iowa, Snider finished his playing career with a .411 career batting average and 69 stolen bases in 72 attempts on the way to being a two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference selection. Snider transferred to Northern Iowa from Kirkwood Community College where he was a junior college All-American shortstop.
In the classroom, Snider earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and coaching from Northern Iowa in 1987 and added a master’s degree in health and physical education from Austin Peay in 1993. A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Snider has two sons, Jacob and Noa, and one daughter, Jenna.
Snider replaces former Louisville assistant coach Chris Lemonis, who was named head coach at Indiana on July 2.
What Others Are Saying About Eric Snider
Illinois Head Coach Dan Hartleb
“Eric is an outstanding recruiter and has done a great job throughout the country, in particular in the Midwest. He has a great eye for talent and will continue to bring in quality players to the University of Louisville. He has a great offensive mind and does an excellent job relating to players. He teaches the necessary skills and mechanics to be a successful hitter at the highest levels of baseball. Eric will be a great asset for the University of Louisville.”
New York Yankees National Crosschecker D.J. Svihlik
“Having played two years for Eric at Illinois, I witnessed first-hand from a player’s perspective the passion he has for hitting while learning quickly that his care for players is very authentic. He is a tireless worker on the recruiting front and has consistently brought in good classes at Illinois. He is extremely well-respected among high school coaches, professional teams and other college coaches because of his professionalism, his trustworthiness and his work ethic. He’s also an outstanding baseball guy who can coach different types of players and different types of hitters. He’s a family man who is going to work hard and compete every day and he’s a terrific hire for Louisville baseball.”
Baseball America National College Writer Aaron Fitt
“For more than a decade at Illinois, Eric has helped build that program into a real force in the Big Ten. He has consistently been able to identify hidden gems and develop them into really good players and you must have a really a good eye to do that. He’s proven he can do that while also getting players with strong pedigrees and allowing them to prosper. This is a strong hire for Louisville.”
Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson
“Eric is one of those guys you want in your program. He’s a knowledgeable baseball man who is probably underrated in how he recruits and teaches. He’s a great evaluator of talent and a great instructor and he’ll certainly be a great addition at the University of Louisville.”
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