A mainstay in Hanover, Bob Whalen is serving his 26th season as Dartmouth’s head baseball coach in the 2015 campaign. After terrific success as a coach at the University of Maine, Whalen has guided the Big Green to success both on and off the field since his arrival prior to the 1990 season.
Under Whalen’s leadership, the Big Green have accumulated 507 victories (a Dartmouth record) against 474 losses and one tie, two Ivy titles, 10 Red Rolfe Division crowns — all in the past 15 seasons — and 66 first team All-Ivy and All-EIBL selections, plus sent 24 players to the professional ranks. Three of Whalen’s players have been named the Ivy Player of the Year, two have been the league’s Pitcher of the Year and a league-record seven have earned the Ivy Rookie of the Year Award.
Last year, Dartmouth won its seventh-straight Rolfe Division crown, but not without some late-season drama as the Big Green had to win their final six Ivy League games to tie Yale atop the standings. Dartmouth hosted the one-game playoff an soundly defeated the Bulldogs, 11-4, but could not continue its magic in the Ivy League Championship Series. Eight players earned All-Ivy honors, and Jeff Keller was named an Academic All-American for a second consecutive year.
The 2013 campaign was a record-setting year as the Big Green won a school-record 32 games and put a league-record eight players on the All-Ivy First Team. The entire weekend starting rotation signed contracts with MLB organizations after the season, three of whom were chosen in the MLB First-Year Player Draft (Mitch Horacek, Michael Johnson and Cole Sulser), as the Big Green pitching staff posted a 2.75 ERA, the lowest in 42 years. In addition, Keller led the nation in doubles per game and ranked fifth in slugging percentage, and Joe Purritano was pegged as the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
Eight players earned All-Ivy honors for the 24-18 Big Green in 2012, while Jake Carlson garnered a spot on the All-New England team after leading the league with a .397 average. Shortstop Joe Sclafani and catcher Chris O’Dowd both signed professional contracts after being selected in the 14th and 23rd rounds, respectively, of the draft.
In 2011, Whalen led the Big Green to their first 30-win season with a .714 winning percentage. No less than 10 of his players received All-Ivy honors, four being named to the first team, while three earned All-New England status. After the season, right-hander Kyle Hendricks signed with the Texas Rangers after being taken in the eighth round of the draft, the highest Big Green selection in seven years. Three years later, he made his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs and posted a 7-2 record with a 2.46 ERA in 13 starts.
The Big Green claimed their second straight conference championship in 2010, defeating Columbia in the Ivy Championship Series to earn the league’s automatic bid to an NCAA Regional. Dartmouth picked up its first victory in a regional game in 23 years when it defeated Florida International, 15-9, then nearly knocked off #20 Texas A&M in a 4-3 loss. O’Dowd was the conference co-Rookie of the Year while the pitching staff led the nation in fewest walks allowed per nine innings for the second straight year.
The New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association named Whalen its Jack Butterfield Award in 2010 as well, given annually to a regional coach who exhibits the integrity and dedication to the game that Coach Butterfield displayed during his long career at the University of Maine. The award has special meaning to Whalen, who played and coached at Maine shortly after Butterfield’s tenure. As a freshman, Whalen was a teammate and classmate of Butterfield’s son, Brian, who went on to a professional playing career in the minor leagues.
Whalen earned his 384th career victory during the 2010 campaign — a 5-4, 10-inning thriller at Princeton — pushing him past Jeff Tesreau (1919-46) as Dartmouth’s all-time winningest coach.
In 2009, the Big Green won the Rolfe Division with a 16-4 record to lead the league. Dartmouth capped off the decade by capturing the conference crown, defeating Cornell in the Ivy Championship Series to advance to an NCAA Regional. Nick Santomauro, the Player of the Year and Blair Bat Award winner, was drafted in the 10th round of the draft by the New York Mets, with whom he signed after his junior campaign.
Whalen’s 2008 squad began the string of division titles with a 15-5 mark, earning the right to host the best-of-three Ivy Championship Series. A school-record five players were named to the all-league first team, including senior co-captains Damon Wright and Russell Young — the latter named the Ivy Pitcher of the Year. Both were selected in the draft and enjoyed fine professional debuts in short-season ball. For his leadership, Whalen was named the New England Coach of the Year.
During the 2006 season, Whalen led a team comprised mostly of freshman and sophomores to a 20-19 overall record and second-place finish in the Rolfe Division. Two of the victories came against nationally ranked opponents: #21 Pepperdine and #28 Cal Poly.
The Big Green captured back-to-back Red Rolfe Division championships in 2000 and 2001 and then again in 2004. The 2000 squad featured the Ivy League Player of the Year (Brian Nickerson), Rookie of the Year (Mike Mileusnic), and Pitcher of the Year (Conor Brooks) as that trio led Dartmouth to a 17-3 mark in Ivy play. The .850 winning percentage is the fourth best all-time in Big Green history, and second only to the .875 percentage (14-2) posted in 1987 over the last 60 years.
The following season, Scott Shirrell claimed Rookie of the Year honors for the team that went 22-18 overall and 12-8 in the league. Dartmouth defeated Brown in a one-game playoff to advance to the Ivy Championship series.
The Big Green owned the Ivy’s best league record at 15-5 in 2004 to win the Rolfe Division crown. Shortstop Ed Lucas was named the conference MVP while pitcher Stephen Perry was selected as the loop’s top rookie. Lucas went on to reach the major leagues in 2013 with the Miami Marlins.
Since the beginning, Whalen has instilled success in the Big Green program. In 1990, he guided Dartmouth to a 21-17 overall record, the most wins ever for a first-year Big Green coach. Whalen’s first captain, Mark Johnson, went on to play seven years in the big leagues for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Anaheim Angels and New York Mets.
Prior to his arrival at Dartmouth, Whalen was an assistant at the University of Maine from 1982-89 and was promoted to associate head coach in 1987. From 1982-87, he worked mainly with infielders and outfielders while serving as the strength and conditioning coach and the recruiting coordinator.
As the Black Bears pitching coach from 1985-1989, Whalen tutored 11 hurlers who eventually signed professional contracts, including the 1993 National League Cy Young Award runner-up, Billy Swift. In addition to Swift, Whalen mentored future major leaguers Joe Johnson (Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays), Jeff Plympton (Boston Red Sox) and Larry Thomas (Chicago White Sox).
All told in his eight seasons as an assistant, 12 position players signed professional contracts, with six making it to the big leagues. That list includes shortstop Mike Bordick, and outfielder Mark Sweeney, both of whom played 14 season in the majors. During his stint at Maine, the Black Bears made seven postseason appearances, winning the NCAA Northeast Regionals from 1982-1984, and advancing to the College World Series, then again in 1986.
In addition to his collegiate coaching career, Whalen served as the head coach of the Chatham A’s of the Cape Cod League in 1988 and 1989, leading the team to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. While with Chatham, Whalen coached former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, the 1994 National League MVP, and 25 others who signed professionally.
Whalen also spent the summer of 1997 with Team USA as the business manager during its tour of America, Japan and Spain. That team, which finished fourth at the Intercontinental Cup in Barcelona, Spain, featured current major leaguers Josh Bard, Pat Burrell, Adam Everett, Casey Fossum, Brad Lidge, and Brian Roberts.
A student-athlete at the University of Maine under the legendary John Winkin, Whalen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in international affairs in 1979 before earning his MBA in finance in 1986. Whalen lives in Hanover with his wife, Kim, son, Matt, and daughter, Katie.