SECOND choice doesn't always mean second best. Pat Murphy turning down the University of Hawaii baseball coaching job could be the best thing that has happened to the program in a long time.
Coach Trap seems
like a good fit
The ability to fit into a unique culture is important for anyone moving here -- especially someone taking over a high-profile position, not to mention following a local legend.
On paper, Murphy looked like the best candidate. But many say he isn't always the easiest guy to get along with. His aggressive personality has irked some folks in the past, including retired UH coach Les Murakami.
Let's put it this way: Murphy might have been a major acclimation project.
Instead, meet Gentleman Mike Trapasso, or "Trap" as he likes to be called.
He comes from Georgia Tech, a winning program with tradition. He was the pitching coach there, and there were zero arm surgeries under his seven-year watch. He kept a good share of the top recruits home, and stole many from out of state.
"Trap is a fantastic recruiter, and nobody works harder," Wake Forest assistant coach Bobby Moranda says.
Despite being way behind because of the timing of his hiring (caused by Murphy's indecision), Trapasso has landed a solid local recruit in Ricky Bauer from Mid-Pacific.
Bauer doesn't have the same kind of eye-popping natural talent as fire-balling Brandon League of St. Louis. But scouts say Bauer, a 39th-round draft pick of the Red Sox, has the potential to be an outstanding college pitcher.
Spend a couple hours talking story with Trapasso, and you learn first-hand why he is such a good recruiter. He doesn't have to fake sincerity.
It's one thing to say all the right things while you're interviewing for a job or at the first media conference when everyone welcomes you with a handshake and smile.
Trapasso did exactly that.
BUT AWAY from the office, he's the same way.
He doesn't talk about how he won a game in the College World Series for Oklahoma State, how he was one of the best pitchers in college baseball in 1984 (you can look it up).
He doesn't brag about all the great recruits he delivered for Tech or about all the big-name coaches he knows well (he did and he does).
He doesn't moan about his pro career being cut short by a shoulder injury (although that is what happened).
Instead, he considers having pitched briefly for a farm team of his beloved hometown St. Louis Cardinals a privilege.
He speaks of how he misses his wife and two boys, whom haven't arrived yet from Atlanta.
He talks reverently of Murakami, whom he went to meet with as soon as he got here.
Trapasso does it all in a self-effacing but confident manner. He promises no miracles right away but does not count them out, either. He takes his job, but not himself, seriously.
Big-time recruiter. Hard worker. Zero arm surgeries in seven years. Sincere, nice guy.
Mike Trapasso appears to be a great fit for his new job because of those qualities.
And not necessarily in that order.
Dave Reardon, who covered sports in Hawaii from 1977 to 1998,
moved to the the Gainesville Sun, then returned to
the Star-Bulletin in Jan. 2000.
E-mail Dave: firstname.lastname@example.org