Mitch Canham met the media in Corvallis Friday morning and he made it clear that the job of coaching Oregon State baseball is a homecoming, of sorts.
And his former coach made it just as clear that he wanted nothing more than to Leave it to a Beaver.
Canham, a former Beaver catcher and now-ex-Manager of Seattle's Double-A Arkansas club left little doubt why he is walking away from professional baseball as a rising star to return to his roots at Oregon State.
“This is the only job I’ve really ever dreamt of,” he said. “My passion for this program is second to none. I’ve lived for the orange and black since I attended OSU.”
The Mariners considered Canham an up-and-comer in their organization, but had been told by Canham that the only call he would ever take about another job would be from Oregon State.
“We couldn’t be happier for Mitch and his family," said the Mariners' Director of Player Development Andy McKay. "Oregon State has a made a great hire and we look forward to seeing Mitch lead the Beavers and represent the Pacific Northwest and his alma mater at the Division I level. Our loss is definitely OSU’s gain.
“Thank you, Mitch, for being a constant reminder to all of us that excellence is always the result of focusing on, and trying to help, other people.”
Former Coach Pat Casey was an advisor to Athletic Director Scott Barnes during the selection process and he was present at the news conference.
“Scott gave me the freedom that he knew that I really believed it had to be a Beaver to carry this thing on,” Casey said. “My whole goal with this was to make sure it stayed in the Beaver family.
“The one thing our baseball program does is rally around each other. And I think they will rally around Mitch. I knew with Mitch, whatever path he chose he was going to be successful.”
Canham is one of those people that, when you ask around to people he’s known or worked with, you never hear anything but positives. Amidst a sea of qualified candidates, I can understand how he could have been a star in the interview process. He is polished and smooth.
I think he will be an outstanding recruiter, in that he believes in the school and the baseball program and should be able to convey that to recruits and their families.
He’s going to need to recruit well because it doesn’t appear that the Beavers will be well-stocked after their drafted players this year sign contracts and depart for the pro ranks.
Canham faces another difficult challenge, too. His top assistant coaches – pitching coach Nate Yeskie and interim head coach Pat Bailey – were candidates for the job he won. Will they return? Would he be stuck with them if he would prefer to bring in other people?
"Amazing men, all of them," Canham said of the Beaver coaching staff. "Not only as people but with their skillset. And they're family. I'm excited to sit down and talk with each coach. I had a chance to talk with Nate, had a chance to talk with 'Bailes' and great things. Great things. We're all in a great place and we're going to continue to have conversations and see how we can make this thing work."
Those questions will have to wait for a few days as Canham is expected to return to Arkansas to say his goodbyes to staff and players and move his belongings to Corvallis.
“I’m looking forward to being home,” Canham said. “This is home.”