Dr. Dirk Baker was named the head coach of the Worcester State baseball team prior to the 1995 season. Coach Baker is the winningest coach in the history of the program, picking up over 525 wins in his nearly 25 years in charge. He earned his 500th career win in 2018 against St. Olaf, and overall has coached in over 1,300 games to date.
In 2017 the Lancers won their sixth MASCAC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In the 2015 season, the Blue and Gold captured their eighth MASCAC regular season title and seventh under Coach Baker while going 27-16. During the 2014 campaign, the Lancers captured their fifth MASCAC Tournament Championship under the direction of Coach Baker while also sharing the MASCAC Regular Season title and making an appearance in the NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional. For his efforts Coach Baker was honored as the MASCAC Coach of the Year. In 2010, Coach Baker helped the Lancers complete their second consecutive 30-win season as they captured the MASCAC Tournament championship and earned an appearance in the NCAA Division III New England regionals. Coach Baker has helped WSU produce 20-win campaigns in 14 out of the last 18 years including a school-record 33-9 mark in 2002 en route to MASCAC Co-Coach of the Year honors. In 2002, 2005 and 2008, Coach Baker also directed the squad to MASCAC conference tournament titles and NCAA Division III Tournament appearances while the 2002, 2005 and 2009 teams all earned regular season titles. The Lancers were also ECAC New England Tournament runners-up in 1999, 2001 and 2009, semifinalists in 2000 and participants in 2011. Baker has career record of 169-91 (.650) against MASCAC opponents. Worcester State has won a playoff game every year from 1999-2006, 2008-10, 2013-15, and 2017.
Coach Baker has coached seven MASCAC Players of the Year, three All-Americans, and one CO-SIDA Academic All-American. Impressively a Lancer ballplayer has won every major award including ECAC Player of the Year and MASCAC Rookie of the Year as well as campus honors (Top Rookie, Sportsman, Male Athlete, and Student Athlete). Four different Lancers have also led the NCAA Division III in statistical categories which have included Jason Akana in 1996 (Batting - .514), Eric Swedberg in 2000 (Slugging – 1.060), Matt Heenan in 2001 (Doubles per game – 0.59) and Chad Cosby in 2003 (ERA – 0.96). Baker has coached players who participated in the MLB World Series, NCAA Div. 1-2-3 World Series, Junior College Div. 2-3 World Series, Legion World Series, Senior Babe Ruth World Series, and the Little League World Series.
Ben Libuda was a 26th round draft pick of the Braves in the 2015 MLB Draft, Tim Stronach 22nd round draft pick of the Mets in 2006, and Nate Nelson 40th round pick of the Blue Jays in 2008. Four other Lancers have played Professional baseball. In 2001, Swedberg played for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League as an outfielder and catcher while Baker coached with the Bourne Braves in summer of 2002. Fifteen Lancers have been placed in NCAA-sanctioned summer collegiate leagues since 1997. In all he has coached five players who made it to the big leagues, 30-plus professionals, and nine Conference Players of the Year.
Swedberg and Tim Leonard were also recipients of the prestigious Howard C. Smith Award, given out to the top senior scholar student-athlete in the MASCAC. Swedberg was also a recipient of a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and two baseball players have represented Worcester State at the NCAA Leadership Conference. Baker is incredibly proud of the more than 400 times a Lancer baseball player earned a 3.0 or higher semester GPA.
Since taking the reigns of the program in 1995, Coach Baker has been involved in running the recruiting, practice organization, game operations, academic monitoring, game scheduling, fundraising, strength & conditioning, clinics and fall practice. Coach Baker started the annual senior days, a family and alumni day and since 1999 he has helped organize an alumni golf tournament. Baker has run camps and clinics (hitting, pitching, catchers, youth coaches, even all-sports) throughout the year since 1996 (4,300 + kids attending) to help fundraiser for the team’s annual trip to Florida.
Coach Baker was a standout player at Auburn High that won the school’s first Central Massachusetts title in his senior year in 1987. Coach Baker had four last-inning game-winning hits en route to a 22-2 record as he set school records for average, RBIs and doubles. He was a recipient of the Jacques Award which is given for sportsmanship, loyalty and teamwork. Coach Baker was also awarded the first-ever Bill Peters Umpires Scholarship.
A 1991 graduate of Boston University (B.S. in Journalism Dean’s List Spring ‘91), Coach Baker originally cut as a freshman from the varsity squad, worked his way onto the junior varsity, to platooning then designated hitter until he eventually became the team’s every-day leftfielder. Coach Baker was a three-year starter, a two-year captain and two-time All-Academic, All-North Atlantic Conference, and a Division I NEIBA All-Star. He set single-season records for homers, walks and he started in 130 consecutive games. Upon graduation he was distinguished with the most Outstanding Senior Baseball Player and named to the BU Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. Coach Baker received his Masters of Education with Honors in Human Movement from BU in 1993 and his Doctorate in Curriculum & Teaching in 1998 (Dissertation Title: An Investigation of Fitness for MLB Players).
Coach Baker was a volunteer assistant coach at Harvard University in 1993 and 1994. While working for the Crimson, Coach Baker helped coach two Ivy League Players of the Year. In 1995, Coach Baker had a brief stop at Commonwealth Avenue as the hitting coach at BU. Coach Baker also coached Senior Babe Ruth in 1994 and most recently for both the West Boylston (2001, 2003-07) and East Side (1995-96, 2008-09) Legion squads during the summer.
Coach Baker is on the road recruiting year-round. Such events have included the MIAA playoffs, Legion States, Senior Ruth Regionals, PBR, Northeast Select and Northeast Baseball Tournaments, Blue Gray and Perfect Games showcases, and has coached with the Bay State Games every summer since 2010. Coach Baker has also been a guest lecturer at the MBCA and NHHSBCA clinics as well as many area Little Leagues. He has also organized over 40 community service projects involving his players most recently the Challenger Baseball program in the fall.
Coach Baker is the author of three books which include: A Baseball Town --- 15 Years of Championships in Auburn, MA (1995), Baseball Drills for Young People: 180 Games & Activities (McFarland, 2002/2008/2019), Teaching Hitting (Ibid, 2005). Coach Baker also has published numerous articles in Collegiate Baseball Magazine on the topics of hitting, fundraising, recruiting & camps and a pair of editorials appeared in the ABCA Coaching Digest and Yankee Magazine. Baker has also released best-selling DVDs through Championship Productions on hitting, games, base running, and practice.
Coach Baker is a full-time staff assistant also in charge of the home game management plus as assistant director in the Wellness Center. Coach Baker also taught 15 years at WSU as an adjunct professor, and is a certified PE teacher for grades K-12.
Coach Baker is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ACBA), New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA), and Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association (MBCA). He lives in West Boylston.
Baker By the Numbers – 0.96 (Chad Cosby’s ERA in 2003), 1 (overall wins of any coach in Worcester State history), 2 (NCAA Tournament wins), 3 (MLB picks and 30 or more win seasons), 4 (times leading the league in team ERA), 5 (regular season MASCAC titles and number of All-Americans), 6 (NCAA Tournaments), 7 (led MASCAC in team batting), 8 (WSU Athletic Hall of Famers), 9 (MASCAC individual batting champs), 12 (23 or more wins in a single season), 13 (former Lancer who went on to coach in either high school or college baseball), 14 (MASCAC Tournaments and seasons with a playoff win), 15 (seasons of 20 or more wins), 16 (highest national ranking in 2003 and MASCAC wins in 2009), 28 (New England All-Stars), 30 (final national ranking in 2002), 33 (USA ranking for wins in the decade 2000-09), 35 (1st Team All-MASCAC Players), 73 (All-MASCAC), 91 (last at-bat wins), 147 (team steals in 2009), .379 (team batting average in 2002 No. 2 USA).