George Washington University officially announced the hiring of former Pirates Hitting Coach Gregg Ritchie on Thursday. Ritchie will serve as the school’s head baseball coach. Pirates Prospects first learned the news of him leaving Pittsburgh last week.
“Coming back to George Washington brings my career full circle as in many ways this is where it all started for me,” said Coach Ritchie. “I met my wife here at GW, and we both made a lifetime of extraordinary memories going to school and competing in the heart of the nation’s capital. To have this opportunity to coach at my alma mater and play our home games in the premier facility in the conference at Barcroft Park is extremely special.”
Ritchie was named the Pirates hitting coach on November 24, 2010. The 2012 season marked his seventh year with the organization. Ritchie previously served as the Minor League hitting coordinator before joining Manager Clint Hurdle’s staff.
While the Pirates finished below .500 for the 20th consecutive losing season. Pittsburgh did see some big steps taken this year on the offensive side of the game. Andrew McCutchen was in the batting title hunt until the final week of the season and connected for a career-high and team-leading 31 long balls. He also led the National League in hits (194), finished second in runs scored (107) and batting average (.327), placed third in on-base percentage (.400) and slugging percentage (.553). Pedro Alvarez (30 HR), Garrett Jones (27 HR) and Neil Walker (14 HR) all enjoyed career-best years in home runs under Ritchie’s tutelage.
“Even though the offense didn’t click all the way through, I think you did see that there is some serious thump in this offense,” Ritchie said. “And there is some youngness taken out. You look at Jones, you look at Walker’s numbers, Cutch’s numbers, you look at [Michael] McKenry, Petey. You talk about the core five or six guys, individually put up the best numbers in their life. And I’m not just talking about little, a pretty sizable jump. It’s just bringing it all together. And that’s just the part of experience and learning and getting some more youngness out and continuing to play.”
“It’s always been my goal through coordinating, it’s been my goal here. It’s an expectation let down. But the great thing? How high is that expectation though? The city and the fans, they believe and they want it and they expect it. That expectation wasn’t there before. That’s a beautiful thing because these guys feel it. And they’re hungry. They’re disappointed as anybody else not to do the whole deal. As long as those expectations stay there, they’re going to get hungry again. They should be disappointed. We are. But we’re not down because of it. It’s just another step to excellence. Just another step to the top. I think there was a sizable difference from one year to the next. Or even the last three or four years.”
Prior to joining the Pirates organization, Ritchie began his coaching career in the Chicago White Sox organization, where he spent 10 years as a hitting coach in their system. Ritchie was drafted by San Francisco in the 8th round of the 1986 draft.
“The GW community is excited to welcome Gregg back to Foggy Bottom,” noted George Washington President Steven Knapp. “His experience as a professional coach and player will be a tremendous asset to our program.”