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Baseball veteran Mike Kirby returned to Cal State Fullerton for the 2012 season as Rick Vanderhook's first assistant coach and recruiting coordinator after a three-year stint in Eugene, Ore., where he helped George Horton rekindle the Ducks' baseball program after a 28-year hiatus.
In his first year as the Titans' recruiting coordinator, CSF's 2012 class was ranked 23rd in the country by Baseball America, producing National Freshman Pitcher of the Year Thomas Eshelman, Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year Justin Garza and 2013 everyday second baseman Jake Jefferies.
Kirby, responsible for coaching first base, also tutors the team’s infielders, and during the last two years has coached one Big West Conference Player of the Year (Carlos Lopez, 2013), one Big West Defensive Player of the Year (Richy Pedroza, 2013), one Big West Freshman Player of the Year (Matt Chapman, 2012) and four Major League Baseball draftees.
Before returning to Fullerton, Kirby, 47, was instrumental in helping Horton promote the Oregon program to the national scene, playing a large role in four consecutive top-25 recruiting classes, including three ranked in the top-10 and a program-best No. 5 ranking in 2010.
Kirby was also responsible for coaching first base and working with the team's outfielders.
In his three seasons with the Ducks, the program produced seven position player All-Pac 10 honorees and four major league draftees including catcher Eddie Rodriguez in 2010.
Kirby took Rodriguez under his wing and helped the senior catcher to a breakout season that saw him lead the team with seven home runs and 45 RBI while hitting .329 before being selected by the Florida Marlins in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
That same year, the Ducks made a remarkable jump after finishing 14-42 in 2009. They got rolling and finished with a 40-24 mark, having advanced to the postseason for just the third time in school history and the first since 1964. It was the second biggest turn-around by a college baseball team since the NCAA began keeping the stat in 1998. The Ducks finished the season on four national polls after reaching the elimination game at the Norwich Regional.
Kirby got back into the college game after nine years of working in sales for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1999-2008) by joining Buddy Goldsmith's UNLV coaching staff for the 2008 season. While in Las Vegas he served as the Rebels' third base coach and helped develop the catchers.
While in Las Vegas, Kirby was instrumental in helping Xavier Scruggs regain his power stroke that helped him win the Mountain West Conference's triple crown with a .379 average, 20 home runs and 65 RBI.
Kirby saw his first action in Fullerton in 1991 and spent eight of the next nine seasons as either a student assistant (one year), facilities manager (three years) or assistant coach (four years). He left the Titans briefly to assist at Los Angeles City College in 1996.
From 1991-1999, Kirby helped the Titans to six Big West Conference titles, four College World Series appearances (1992, 1994, 1995, 1999) and a national championship in 1995. He helped groom nine (Frank Charles, Steve Sisco, Phil Nevin, Dante Powell, Jeremy Giambi, Mark Kotsay, Mike Lamb, Aaron Rowand and Reed Johnson) former Titan position players for the major leagues and tutored four of the five Titan Olympians (Brian Loyd, Kotsay, Jason Moler and Nevin).
He learned his craft from working with Titan coaching staffs that included current Div. I head coaches Augie Garrido, George Horton, Dave Serrano and Vanderhook, and also played his last season of college ball under then-Long Beach State Head Coach and former Titan assistant Dave Snow.
Kirby played two seasons of junior college ball at Cerritos College under Horton in 1988 and 1989, when the Falcons won two state championships. He finished up his collegiate career with the 49ers in 1990. He prepped at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Kirby earned his bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton in 1994. He currently lives in San Clemente with his family.