University of Miami

He follows legends, but UM's new baseball coach is ready to 'create our own history'

adiaz@miamiherald.com

Gino DiMare on Tuesday stood in a spot that two men before him had crafted into a pinnacle of success.

He knows he's following up two Hall of Fame coaches, two insurmountable legacies, two inspiring mentors.

As he was introduced as the 10th head baseball coach in Miami Hurricanes history, following in the footsteps of Ron Fraser and Jim Morris, DiMare soaked in the moment and realized a milestone he never thought he wanted growing up.

And as he fought back tears on multiple occasions while thanking his family and cherishing in the magnitude of the situation, DiMare made one promise while standing in front of more than 200 invited guests.

"I want to make sure that we create our own history," DiMare said.

After all, he spent enough time watching the program make history right before his eyes.

As a preps standout at Westminster Christian, DiMare looked on from a distance as Fraser began turning UM into a dynasty. At 18, DiMare committed to The U and spent four years from 1989-1992. As DiMare's time as a Hurricane player came to an end, so did Fraser's 30-year career as the program's skipper.

"He's the Godfather of this program," DiMare said. "As a kid growing up, there was Don Shula and there was Ron Fraser. That was it."

After a short stint in the Boston Red Sox organization and a year working as an assistant coach at Westminster Christian, he returned to the Hurricanes in 1997 as an assistant coach for Jim Morris, a soon-to-be legend in his own right. Miami was fresh off a runner-up finish at the College World Series at the time. During the next 19 years, DiMare helped Morris refine a program already among the nation's best.

There were the 17 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances that added on to the 27 postseason berths in a row that came before that. There were the 10 College World Series berths, bringing the program total to 25, second only to Texas. And there were the two national championships in 1999 and 2001, a testament that the University of Miami didn't plan to leave the spotlight anytime soon.

"It's safe to say he carried the torch from coach Fraser and carried it at a very, very proud level," DiMare said. "We should all be proud."

Now, it's DiMare's turn to carry the torch. It's an opportunity that has been 19 years in the making and turned into reality three years ago following a conversation with athletic director Blake James in 2015 about the future of the program. DiMare knew he would have to wait a few more years while Morris finished his 25-year tenure, but the wait was worth it, he said.

"It was a dream of mine to play here at the University of Miami," DiMare said. "Never in my wildest dreams as a kid did I think I was going to be a coach here."

And while the Hurricanes missed the NCAA tournament the past two years — something that hasn't happened at Miami since 1972 — DiMare is optimistic about the direction of the program.

The Hurricanes return a wealth of underclassman — highlighted by freshman All-Americans Freddy Zamora, Daniel Federman and Isaac Quinones — and bring in a 14-player recruiting class. Rising junior Evan McKendry, a third-team All-ACC member, will lead the pitching staff.

"He understands our program. He knows the expectations, " James said. "I have no doubt in my mind that Gino's going to lead us back to Omaha."

DiMare knows firsthand what Fraser and Morris built during their 55 combined years leading Miami Hurricanes baseball. He has been there, sometimes watching from a distance, sometimes playing a role away from the spotlight.

When the 2019 season begins, it will be DiMare's turn to make history.

"I understand the significance of this program as good as anybody," DiMare said. "Nobody wants this program to succed more than me."

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