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Madonna Athletics StaffGreg Haeger
Head Baseball Coach
Field Maintenance Director
Greg Haeger enters his 11th season at the helm of the Madonna University baseball team. Haeger has led the Crusaders to back-to-back Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference regular season titles and three straight regional tournament appearances. In 2006, Haeger guided Madonna to a 35-21-1 overall record and a 13-3 mark in the conference.
After two conference tournament titles, three NAIA regional appearances and several individual coaching awards, Haeger added a missing piece to his coaching legacy in 2005 when he guided the Crusaders to a 40-16 record and the WHAC regular season championship. At the helm of the baseball program, Haeger, 37, guided his team to their fifth NAIA regional tournament appearance and a spot in the NAIA top-25 for the first time in school history in 2005, peaking at No. 18 for most of the season.
Since taking over for Mike George on June 24, 1996, after a pair of seasons as George’s pitching coach, Haeger has led the Crusaders to a 245-223-1 overall record. In recent years his teams have been a constant contender in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference and have gained national attention with their top-25 ranking.
The longest tenured coach in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference enters the 2007 season ready for the challenges that await him. No longer does Haeger have the luxury of sneaking up on opponents the way they have in recent years. After a 2005 season that saw his team start the year with a pair of wins at No. 7 ranked Spalding University and go undefeated (11-0) on the spring trip to Florida, the word is now out that Madonna is a force to be reckoned with nationally.
Adding to the buzz surrounding the past two seasons was the inaugural game of Ilitch Ballpark on March 27, 2004. Formerly known as Madonna University Ballpark, the brand-new $1 million home of Madonna baseball features a major league playing surface, full infield and outfield drainage, major league-sized dugouts and most importantly, an on-campus home for the team. In October 2005, a generous contribution from Detroit Tigers and Red Wings owner and Little Caesar’s Pizza founder Mike and Marian Ilitch led to the unveiling of a major league sized scoreboard bearing the new name beyond the left field fence.
The Crusaders launched their new home versus Urbana University (3/27/04) but the result was not what they hoped, coming up on the short end of an 11-7 defeat. The day was not a complete wash however as the stands were packed on what turned out to be one of the nicest weather days of the year, and cheered the home team on to a 4-3 win in game two of the double header.
“That game was a special day for our program and one that I will always look back upon with fond memories,” stated Haeger. “The University and Athletic Department really made it a special day with all the fan-fare, first pitch, national anthem, you name it...it was great for our kids.”
Haeger looks to that game as a turning point in Crusader baseball history, and a stepping block for future successes. “We hope to parlay the new field with the success of the program into something that can become tradition here at Madonna,” he said. “Our goal is to make Madonna baseball one of the top programs in the state, and a place where we can elevate our successes on and off the field for a long time to come.”
On the field, Haeger places a strong emphasis on teaching the game of baseball. Whether working as a team or through individual instruction, he has constantly worked to improve fundamentals. In addition, he preaches an aggressive style of play as the Crusaders’ stolen base numbers demonstrate. His work with the Madonna pitching staff is undeniably a major reason for the team’s success in recent years. Last season alone, MU pitchers led the conference in numerous statistical categories and were among the nations leaders in ERA and strikeouts.
After an outstanding high school career at Detroit Catholic Central, Haeger was named Michigan Amateur player of the year, and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers following his senior season. Greg put his professional dreams on hold to accept a baseball scholarship and pursue his education at the University of Michigan. Haeger enjoyed a tremendous career at Michigan, earning All- Big Ten Conference honors in both 1998 and 1989. He led the Wolverines with eight game winning RBI's as a sophomore when he batted .292 with five homeruns. He tied for third on the team with 38 RBI's as a sophomore. A career .290 hitter, Haeger spent the majority of his time as a first baseman for the Maize and Blue.
In 1990, Haeger was again drafted by the Tigers and opted to turn pro following his junior season. While with the Tigers, Haeger moved up through the farm system, earning All-Star honors in 1991 and playing on the Florida State League Champion Lakeland Tigers in 1992. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his professional career. Following the injury, Haeger returned to Michigan to complete his degree in general studies in 1994. He later joined the Madonna staff as an assistant. His impact on the pitching staff was immediately noticeable as the team’s ERA finished in the top 15 of the NAIA in two of his three seasons as pitching coach. In addition, he was part of Madonna’s first sectional championship team in 1995.
Haeger recently added the duties of field maintenance director to his already full schedule. He is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of University Ballpark as well as the Madonna University Softball Field.
Off the field, Coach Haeger and his wife Jean reside in New Hudson with their sons Gregory III [Trey] and Evan.