“Reuniting with the family,” he describes it. Thirty years after putting on the cardinal and white as the starting shortstop for the Cardinal’s 1987 College World Series Championship team, David Esquer is back at home.
On Friday, June 16, Esquer was announced as Stanford’s Clarke and Elizabeth Nelson Director of Baseball, succeeding the retiring Mark Marquess. Marquess coached the team for 41 years and was Esquer’s own college coach during his Stanford career from 1984 to 1987. Esquer was welcomed at a press conference the following Tuesday by athletic director Bernard Muir.
A “dream come true,” the opportunity to become Stanford’s next coach was quite organic, Esquer claims.
“It was an interview process, and I don’t think there was any frontrunner going into it…I was just fortunate enough that I checked off enough of the boxes,” Esquer says, laughing. “I don’t think I checked them all off.”
Still, when he received a call from a “650 number” one day, Esquer was nervous.
“I didn’t answer it. I knew it was going to be an offer or a polite rejection, and at that moment I wasn’t quite ready to hear it, so I let it go to voicemail,” he says.
From that voicemail message, though, he knew.
“Athletic director Muir said that he would love to get a chance to talk with me,” Esquer says with a smile. “I knew that was a lot better than, ‘I need to talk to you.’”
After 18 years at the helm of Cal’s baseball program, however, he acknowledges that the moment is a bit bittersweet. Esquer brought the program back from possible elimination due to budget cuts—all the way back, in fact, to the 2011 College World Series, winning the 2011 National Coach of the Year Award in the process.
“I’m known for establishing good relationships with my players so…these are hard conversations to have,” Esquer admits.
Nevertheless, he sees a bright future for the Berkeley program without him.
“Of course, you want to leave it better off…and I think my assistants and I were able to do that.”
With the roster well-stocked with talent, Esquer is confident in the team’s potential.
“I halfway teased my players that the next coach gets to be Steve Kerr,” he says.
After over a week, it still hasn’t quite set in yet for Esquer. At the moment, he’s got his hands full as he transitions between two programs.
“There’s going to be a day when I get to work—that is my comfort zone—when I really feel like I’m settled in and really working the program forward,” Esquer says. “Once I get through that transition stage, I think I’m gonna have that moment where it kind of takes my breath that I’m actually the head coach at Stanford.”
In the meantime, it’s back to work for Esquer.
“I have not met with the players yet but reached out to many by phone,” he says. “Talked about how excited I am to be there…to come home and get started.”
Esquer looks forward to taking the baton from Marquess and continuing Stanford’s tradition of success.
“When I was away I did develop my own voice and personality…and I hope to mix that with the greatness that Stanford is,” he says. “You just hope you can continue to get them to work hard, strive for excellence, and be really good at winning baseball games.”
More than anything, Esquer thinks back to the great memories he had at Stanford—“from living in Branner Hall to the experience of winning a national championship to going to Omaha as an assistant coach under Coach Marquess”—while hoping to make many more.
“Just a lot of great memories and friendships that I made,” Esquer says, sighing. “It’s great to welcomed back with such energy.”
Contact Ben Chen at thebenchen10 ‘at’ gmail.com.