By Ferron Lucero
A former infielder and relief pitcher at Eastern New Mexico University, Brian Cronk turned to coaching when he was released after playing one year in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
After a year as a student assistant at Eastern, Cronk is in his fourth season as an assistant baseball coach at Clovis High.
“I am working with kids that have more opportunities and more talent than what I felt I had,” Cronk said. “It’s real rewarding to pass along what I learned from playing through little leagues, high school, college, and in the Pirates’ organization. That’s something that I can pass along to the next group of kids and hopefully they can take it with them and move on to the next level.”
The Wildcats (16-4) have been ranked as high as third in Class 5A in the Albuquerque Journal’s coaches’ poll.
Cronk played at Glendale Junior College in Arizona before transferring to Eastern.
A switch-hitter, Cronk played first and third base for the Hounds in 1997-98 and occasionally was used as a relief pitcher.
“He was a guy that had a chance to hit with some power from both sides of the plate,” Eastern coach Phil Clabaugh said.
He drew the interest of the Pirates during Greyhound baseball trip to Arizona and was drafted in the 45th round. He played for the Bradenton (Fla.) Pirates in the Gulf Coast League, primarily a league for rookies.
It was when he was with the Pirates he decided he wanted to coach.
“I spent more time paying attention and watching how coaches did things because I knew that I wanted to coach and was getting that opportunity to see how they did it,” Cronk said.