Head Coach to be fêted before May 22nd game;
now has second most wins at one high school in Illinois history.
By Mark Vruno
On May 4th, Dave Hogan, the head varsity baseball coach at Fenwick High School, recorded his 800th win for the school: a 10-3 victory over Chicago Catholic League (CCL) rival De La Salle. For Hogan, the milestone “W” was just another chilly day at Priory Field in River Forest, where Fenwick plays its home games.
“When Dan O’Brien hired me [in 1980], he told me, ‘In order to play in the sandbox, you’ve got to have toys,’” recalls Hogan, 62, who has been teaching physical education classes and coaching Fenwick’s baseball team for nearly four decades. At the time, Hogan was 25 years old – only a few years removed from earning a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University. Reflecting on his tenure as the Friars’ skipper and 13 CCL championships to date, he says, “I’ve been fortunate to have some very good baseball athletes come through here.” In 37 seasons, “We’ve only had two lean years as far as having competitive talent,” he adds. “I’ve also been blessed to have good assistant coaches.” Hogan’s present staff includes former players Kyle Kmiecik ’00, Jim Ehrhard ’03 and Joe Ori ’03 as well as alumni fathers Ron Klinger and Don Kmiecik.
Averaging nearly 22 victories per year (and counting) is nothing to scoff at, especially when competing in what Hogan calls the “beat-up world” of the CCL. He remembers key wins, of course, “but I remember the key losses even more,” he laments. Last year, Hogan’s 2016 team won a 3A sectional championship; this year his 19-11 Friars are peaking as they head into their regular-season finale at home (Harlem Ave. and Division St.) against Jones Prep on Saturday, May 20. Before the 11 a.m. first pitch, Coach Hogan will be recognized during a short ceremony at approximately 10:30 a.m.
“It’s extremely rewarding that several of my ex-players are coaching in high school and at the next level,” Hogan says. For example, brothers Bill ’85 and Lee Milano ’87 are racking up their own win columns – more than 400 career victories each -- as the head varsity baseball coaches at Maine South and Nazareth Academy, respectively. Meanwhile, Dave Schrage ’79 was head coach at the University of Notre Dame and now is at Butler University.
Now with 802 wins, Hogan is gaining ground on legendary Oak Park-River Forest Coach Jack Kaiser (865) for the most baseball victories at one school, according to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). The Fenwick coach says retiring is not in his short-term plans. “I never grow tired of games or even seasons,” Hogan notes. “I still have a ton of passion for the game.”
It warms his heart when former players stop in for visits. “Rick Jennings '82, my first All-Stater, was at batting practice last week,” Hogan reports. Now residing in New Mexico, he played third base and was a ninth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jennings is one of 23 All-State baseball players coached by Hogan. Ten of his ex-players have been drafted by MLB teams.
Coach Hogan’s other accomplishments:
- Chicago Catholic League Hall of Fame, 2008
- Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, 2000
- Iowa Western College Hall of Fame, 1997
- Who's Who Among America's Teachers, (1985, 1989, 1992)
- Chicago Catholic League Most Wins (Baseball; 610 and counting)
The Illinois state baseball playoffs begin on May 22nd. Follow Fenwick baseball on Twitter: @baseballfriars