April 26, 2012
PITTSBURGH — His head coaching career has spanned 25 seasons and two schools, and during that time Joe Jordano has been a model of consistency, posting winning seasons 19 times and 30-plus victories in 11 seasons. That success has culminated in a series of records and milestones this year that have not gone unnoticed by his peers.
The most recent benchmark reached by Jordano was his 700th career win, which came in dramatic fashion as sophomore Casey Roche hit a walk-off solo home run to beat Akron, 3-2. Earlier this season, Jordano notched his 400th win as head coach of the Panthers, and shortly after that he became the program’s career leader in wins, surpassing Bobby Lewis (1955-1990). The record came with much pride and honor as Jordano solidified himself in the school’s history books, placing himself in good company with head coaches across the nation.
Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson hired Jordano on November 17, 1997. Since that very moment, Jordano has dedicated all efforts towards restoring the school’s baseball program. For the past 15 seasons, Pitt baseball has seen an exceptional amount of growth. Jordano, whose overall record at Pitt now stands at 418-351-2, has led six seasons with 33 or more wins in addition to putting together back-to-back third place finishes in the Big East Conference in the previous two seasons. The Panthers have also received votes for and have been ranked in top-35 polls by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, and USA Today/ESPN.
Since being appointed to the head coaching position that he holds today, Jordano has led the way to the baseball program becoming one of the top contending teams in the Big East. Even more so, the team has seen many of its own players reach the professional ranks of the game, such as the school-record six players who were selected in the MLB Draft a season ago. To Jordano, it is the players that make the ride worth the while, in addition to the number of relationships he has established with other figures of the game throughout his career.
“When you are in this game long enough to have some success, these milestone wins will come along,” Jordano said. “It makes you look back on the incredible players, staff, and alumni, and the support you have had in the past. Each of those individuals made Pitt baseball what it is today and played a significant part in each one of those wins. Those relationships and moments last a lifetime.”
Jordano has earned a tremendous amount of respect from other head coaches in NCAA Division I baseball. Tom Corbin, the head coach of Vanderbilt’s baseball program, considers Jordano “one of the best baseball coaches in the country.”
“Very seldom do you come across a coach on the other side of the field that you truly respect, admire, and like,” said Corbin. “Joe Jordano is that coach.”
The acknowledgement of Jordano’s milestone win over Coastal Carolina extended all throughout Division I baseball to colleagues such as Paul Mainieri, the current head coach at LSU. Mainieri often played the Panthers when he coached at Notre Dame, and offered excellent appraisal of Jordano’s career accomplishments.
“It is only appropriate that Joe is now the all-time leader in wins at Pitt, as he is, in my opinion, one of the top coaches in the entire country,” said Mainieri. “I always enjoyed the competition with the Panthers with Joe at the helm, for he always had his team ready to play and they played hard in every game.
“We had some very memorable games between our teams and several of those record wins came against my Notre Dame teams,” Mainieri continued. “No matter who won or lost the games, however, Joe was always the epitome of class and dignity after the competition was over. I have the greatest respect for Joe as a coach, but I have even greater respect for him as a person and as a representative of the University of Pittsburgh.”
Jordano has been coaching since 1987, and began his career at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.—his hometown. He had a 283-118 record at Mercyhurst, contributing to an overall career record that stands at an impressive 701-469-2 (.599 winning percentage). In 25 years of coaching, Jordano has been a seven-time Coach of the Year and has made 12 postseason appearances. In 2009, he was elected into the Mercyhurst College Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he was recognized as the Chuck Tanner Collegiate Manager of the Year, in addition to being voted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He was also named the ABCA East Region Coach of the Year in 2010.
But it is not just the numbers and the awards that matter to Jordano. He is a coach that invests an unmatched measure of pride into his work, and is a leader that continually looks towards the future to ensure the success of the Pitt baseball program. It is this very mentality that Jordano enters work with day-in and day-out, instilling a positive atmosphere in the clubhouse that grounds itself on hard work and dedication. Looking forward, Jordano believes that this Panthers team will continue to get better as the season progresses.
“I am very proud to be the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh,” says Jordano. “We have remained very competitive in the Big East Conference, developed an impressive number of professional ball players, excelled in the classroom, have done special things in the community, and have been very responsible. The future is bright and I am very excited to lead this program, along with my tremendous staff, into a new chapter of Pitt baseball. But for now, we are completely focused on this season.”
He notes his tremendous coaching staff, and because of that appreciation for the help he has received, the feelings of respect are reciprocated by both current and former assistants. Danny Lopaze has been on the staff for four seasons and has risen to the ranks of associate head coach. Following the win over Coastal Carolina to become the program’s all-time wins leader, Lopaze expressed sentiments that would probably be echoed by others that have worked for Jordano.
“I think the best thing an assistant coach can say about a head coach is that I feel like I go to work every day and work with Coach Jordano. Not a lot of people can say that in the coaching profession,” Lopaze said. “He has taught me a lot since I've had the privilege to coach with him and I couldn't be happier to say that I coach with the all-time winningest coach in our program’s history. He's done it with class and the utmost professionalism.”
Jordano’s 403rd victory was an extraordinary feat, and is one that will always hold significant value in the history of Pitt athletics. As the Panthers prepare themselves for the second half of their Big East schedule, Jordano, too, moves forward with them as the team works towards emulating and surpassing the extent of their successes recorded a season ago. The process is one that is focused on continual improvement—a process that Jordano sees as fitting to the identity of the university that helped him get to the position he stands at today.
“There is such a rich history at the University of Pittsburgh,” Jordano said. “So many great things have happened here. It is a world-class education in a great city. I have been fortunate to be a part of the incredible growth in all areas under the leadership of Chancellor Nordenberg. I hope to be a part of it for the rest of my career.”