San Rafael High hires hard-throwing Switala to coach baseball team

by Ryan Metcalfe, Marin Independent Journal

Some comebacks aren’t about the trophies won, goals achieved or even Disney movies about your story. Some are just about the lessons learned and those you can share with others.

Stan Switala’s baseball comeback was never destined to be as glorious as Jim Morris, who went from 30-something high school coach to Major League pitcher with the subsequent movie “The Rookie” made to tell his story. Switala hoped to have a similar story when he left his job with the San Rafael police department shortly after finishing his first season as the pitching coach at Tam High to give professional baseball one last chance at 30.

Switala’s comeback ended like his first try out of college: Injuries to his right arm, which was still throwing baseballs in excess of 90 mph, never healed and were never corrected in 1999 when his first pro bid ended.

Switala is not bitter about his injury and now he has the chance to make several boys at San Rafael High better. Switala was hired as the school head baseball coach last week.

“He’s fresh out of playing professional baseball … and I think that will open kids’ eyes,” San Rafael athletic director Tony Butler said. “He brings the kind of intensity our kids are looking for.”

That intensity comes from Switala’s experiences as a pro player who never gave up on his dream.

“I’m already working on a schedule so we can get ready for the MCAL season and I think we can compete for the MCAL championship,” Switala said without a hint of a curve ball, just rearing back and throwing hard and straight.

Switala saw the Bulldogs team that went 4-12 last year while coaching for Tam and he isn’t worried about a lack of talent.

“I hear a lot of things about San Rafael not having enough talent, but I really disagree with that,” said Switala, who now works with Suisun City’s police force after surgery to remove a cyst in his triceps as well as a clean-up scope on his elbow. “I saw them last year and they had a lot of talent.”

Switala has more than a strong arm and enthusiasm to bring to the mound as a player or to the diamond as a coach. His experience and knowledge of the game made him a successful coach at Tam and a popular individual coach with his own company, Top Speed Baseball, that attracts clients from all over the Bay Area. His knowledge of the game has him considering another comeback of sorts, coaching with former Redwood High great Buddy Biancalana, the manager of Switala’s comeback team this summer – the Amarillo Dillas, an independent minor league team in Texas.

“There is a possibility I might go in the summer after high school is over to be a player-coach in the United League,” Switala said. “If not, I’ve already had two chances at pro ball and I think that part is pretty much over, which is why I’ve turned to coaching.”

Switala, who lives in Tiburon, was a standout at St. John the Baptist High in West Islip, N.Y., and pitched collegiately at Eastern Michigan and Farmingdale Junior College in New York.

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