In 2005, the Memphis Tigers needed a new head coach for their baseball team. After searching they finally got their guy. For 17 years Daron Schoenrock, called Coach Rock by players, would be the face of Memphis baseball.
Schoenrock, a father of two and husband to Carol Cawood, confirmed that he will retire after the 2022 season on media day. A 37-year career at the collegiate level comes to an end and there are many memories to celebrate.
Schoenrock was a former collegiate baseball player prior to becoming head coach at the U of M. Schoenrock was a pitcher for the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles from 1981-1984. Although he did not continue his playing career at the professional level, Schoenrock got into the coaching tree early, becoming a graduate assistant for Murray State from 1985-1987.
He went on to become a head coach for the first time at Lincoln Memorial University. He would later be an assistant for 10 years and came up with the “Total Pitching Program” in 1995. From 2000-2001, Schoenrock would be a pitching coach for the Georgia Bulldogs, who went to the College World Series in 2001. Schoenrock made one more stop at Mississippi State before becoming the Tigers head coach.
Prior to reaching his final destination in Memphis, he had produced a resume of elite pitchers who would play professionally for years – including Brandon Webb’s 7-year MLB career, Paul Mahlom’s 10-year MLB career and World Series Champion Closer Jonathon Papelbon’s 12-year MLB career.
The 60-year-old manager has experienced the highs and lows of his 17-year career with the Tigers. In 2013, he was named the C-USA Coach of the Year, but would finish with a record below .500.
His first year with the Tigers was a struggle for the coach, finishing with a 13-42 record, but Schoenrock and the team bounced back in a big way – going 32-28 the following season, which was, at the time, the best turnaround between seasons for the Tigers.
The next year Schoenrock’s team would improve to a 36-27 record. That would be the team’s best record until 2013, when Schoenrock won the C-USA Coach of the Year award, and the team finished the season at 35-24.
In 2010, Schoenrock took part in the team’s new ballpark, FedEx Park, and talked about how special that was to be involved.
“FedEx got involved and decided to give us a gift to upgrade what we were trying to play in,” Schoenrock said. “In February 2010, we moved into what’s now FedEx Park, the locker room, building the indoor hitting, and then the renovated press box that’s on the grandstand. That was
a very proud moment for me, and it got us a little bit on the map in regards to the facilities race that was starting to go on in college baseball.”
One of his proudest moments as a father also came in that 2013 season, when he watched his son Erik Schoenrock win C-USA Pitcher of the Year and get selected by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round.
“That was a special year, it was fun for me. I was named Conference USA Coach of the Year, and my son was Conference USA Pitcher of the Year, my oldest son Eric,” Schoenrock said. “That’s voted on by the coaches in the league — you’re selected by your peers, and they recognize the job you did so that was kind of special.”
One of the marks of a great coach is being a role model to the team and that’s what Schoenrock offered to his players. The clubhouse went through some emotional highs and lows after the announcement their longtime skipper would retire after the 2022 season, but the team is focused on finishing the season for their coach.
“He gave me a chance, he has meant the world to me, he’s picked me up when I was down,” sophomore catcher Taylor Howell said. “Even on those bad days, he stuck me back in there. Even though I wasn’t doing my best, he knew I’d get through it.”
Howell, who has been a Tiger for two years, is not alone with his emotional ties to the coach. Seniors on the team also shared the same experience with their teammate.
“I’ve been blessed to be with Rock for five years,” senior infielder Ben Brooks said. “He’s one of the best people I’ve met in college athletics on the field, and off the field, he doesn’t change. He’s definitely a blessing.”
After baseball, Schoenrock will take on the next chapter in his life.
“I’m going to do something whether it’s in baseball or in administration, the lord’s blessed me with good health and I’m going to keep staying busy,” he said. “We love living here, we love the Memphis area.”
Jacob Compton completes the double play attempt to end the inning. The Tigers would fall to Nicholls 9-14 on Saturdays game.
Coach Daron Schoenrock answering questions heading into the 2022 season. He has confirmed that this season will be his last at the helm.
After a difficult series against the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Tigers will try to bounce back against the Tulane Green Wave Friday.
After dropping their first game of a three-game series with the Redhawks, the Tigers were able to rally back.