Palm stepping aside as HU baseball coach after ’14

In his 14 years as Heidelberg’s baseball coach, Matt Palm only could count 10 games when his father wasn’t there to support him.

Palm said he wants to be there like that for his kids.

And carrying the responsibilities of HU’s baseball coach and athletic director were going to make that different.

So Palm, the only coach to take the school’s program to a World Series, made a decision.

Heidelberg announced Friday that Palm will step down as baseball coach after the upcoming season. Chad Fitzgerald, Palm’s associate head coach, will take over for Palm after that.

Palm will remain as the university’s athletic director. The father of four said it was getting difficult to juggle all his responsibilities.

“The family is a big part [of the decision],” said Palm, whose oldest son, Sam, is a sophomore and multi-sport athlete at Calvert. “You want to be able to spend time with (your kids), watch them grow. I know I’ll still be heavily involved in coaching [them]. My dad’s missed 10 games since I coached at Heidelberg. I want to carry on that legacy.”

Fitzgerald, Palm’s assistant for the past seven seasons, said the decision to announce things now was because the staff didn’t want the players on the 2014 squad to think they impacted Palm’s decision. It was also announced to let recruits know the situation.

Fitzgerald said he doesn’t expect much to change in 2014.

“I’ve handled the pitching staff [in recent years], Matt handles the hitters,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t think there will be a ton of change there.”

Palm’s run at Heidelberg has been an unmitigated success. He took over in 2000, and since then, he has led The ‘Berg to 428 wins, six 30-win seasons, five Division III regional tournament appearances, five Ohio Athletic Conference regular season championships, four OAC tournament championships and a 2010 World Series appearance.

Before Palm’s arrival, the program had a .387 winning percentage.

After this season, Fitzgerald will have a chance to continue the program’s success.

“I think the sky’s the limit for the program,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to continue to work hard, bring in good players; see no reason why we couldn’t be back where we were five six years ago.”

Palm, who hired Fitzgerald right after the latter’s successful pitching career at Seton Hill, praised the future mentor of the Students Princes.

“He’s paid his dues, played at great program at Seton Hill and was a great student as well,” Palm said. “I see him as somebody who’ll put his stamp on the program. He’s his own person, but carry on what Heidelberg baseball has been on the field off the field.”

But before that, Palm has one more piece of business as coach: The 2014 season.

“We have a great group of young men,” Palm said of this year’s team. “They’re as motivated as they’ve ever been, and are looking forward to what they can accomplish.”