LUBBOCK, Texas – Brian Hamm is adept at building on the success of legendary coaches in storied programs.
He did that in nine seasons at Amherst, where he led the Mammoths to four NCAA Division III appearances before moving across the border to take over at Eastern Connecticut State University, also a Division III school. In two full seasons (not counting the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign), Hamm’s Warriors improved from 23 wins in 2019 to 32 wins in 2021.
Finally, this season, Eastern Connecticut returned to the pinnacle of Division III college baseball as the Warriors captured the school’s fifth national championship earlier this month, completing a dominating 49-3 season with a 14-0 run through the postseason and upending defending national champion Salisbury University for the crown.
And now, for his next trick, Hamm will attempt to repeat that success at one of the oldest and most tradition-rich schools in the country a little further down the road at Yale University, where he was named the school’s 14th head coach on June 21. He’ll bring with him not only his track record of success, but the title of 2022 Skip Bertman Coach of the Year as awarded by the College Baseball Foundation.
“Coach Hamm is very deserving of this year's Bertman Award,” said Mike Gustafson, chairman and CEO of the College Baseball Foundation. “Eastern Connecticut is one of the most successful teams in Division III history and his leadership was a big key to that.”
The award is named for legendary LSU head coach and National College Baseball Hall of Famer Skip Bertman, who coached the Tigers from 1984 to 2001. In his time at LSU, Bertman won five national championships and was named National Coach of the Year six times. He coached 31 players who went on to play Major League Baseball and was part of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2006.
Hamm was selected by a national committee of active and retired coaches from all levels of college baseball. The Bertman Award recognizes coaches at every level of college baseball. Past winners of the award include Jeremy Sheetinger from Georgia Gwinnett College (2021), Erik Bakich from Michigan (2019), Jeff Willis from LSU-Eunice (2018), Kevin O’Sullivan from Florida (2017), Tim Scannell from Trinity University (2016), Paul Mainieri from LSU (2015), Tim Tadlock from Texas Tech (2014) and Mike Dickson from Gloucester County College (2013).
The Warriors opened the 2022 season ranked No. 9 in the nation in Division III, the highest preseason ranking for the program since 2012. Eastern Connecticut then proceeded to run roughshod over the competition, entering the playoffs as the No. 2 seed on the heels of winning 27 of its final 28 games to end the regular season, then went undefeated in the postseason to finish on a 23-game winning streak and set a school record for single-season wins and winning percentage (.942).
Eastern Connecticut also led the country in team ERA at 2.91 and, overall, allowed just 3.33 runs per game on the season. Hamm leaves Eastern Connecticut with a four-year record of 108-30.
Prior to his time at Eastern Connecticut, Hamm was a four-year assistant at Amherst under legendary coach Bill Thurston before taking over the program in 2010 and overseeing its winningest period in school history, compiling a 221-113 record with four Division III tournament appearances and two New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament titles. His .725 winning percentage in conference play is the highest in conference history.
At Amherst, Hamm coached four players to the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, including two players in Baseball America’s top five Division III prospects and the 2012 preseason NCAA Division III National Player of the Year.
Hamm graduated from Middlebury College in 2002 and spent three seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater while also serving as an envoy coach for MLB for three years, working with amateur and professional teams in Europe. He served as a roaming instructor for the Dutch and Spanish Baseball Federations in 2009, and was honored with the Julio Puente Envoy Coach of the Year Award from the American Baseball Coaches Association. The award goes to the envoy coach who displays excellence in coaching and player development in international baseball.
Hamm will be recognized by the College Baseball Foundation later this year.