[Photos provided by Union College Athletics]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Union College baseball coach Paul Mound is being inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame on Nov. 12.
“There is a local organization that runs the only baseball hall of fame organization that is not affiliated with Cooperstown in the country, only New York State offers it. They recognize people that have had an impact on baseball and it doesn’t matter if that impact was professional, umpiring, or if it was sponsoring a little league baseball team. So if you’ve had a longstanding effect on kids in the game of baseball, that’s what gets recognized. In addition, there are some pretty impressive Major League Baseball (MLB) players who also get recognized,” Mound explained.
Coach Mound has been the head coach at Union College for the last seven years. His impact on the baseball program is unprecedented. When he took over the position, he knew that he had to start from the ground up and was very honest with his coaching staff and players.
“We broke every record in Union baseball history. We went 26 and 13 in 2013; I had the conference player of the year, Tyler Heck, in 2013. He was actually offered three MLB contracts as a free agent. In 2014 we won the conference title and the Liberty League Championship and advanced on to the NCAA and that was the first time Union had ever gone to NCAA. In 2016 we won the conference title and NCAA again. We’ve also won the Liberty League Championship three times in the last five years. It has been quite a run for us,” Mound remarked.
Baseball started at Union College in 1860 and was the first sport to ever be played on that campus. In 1860 and 2000, Union’s team won 20 games in a season. When Mound took over the program, the average win-loss record was eight and 28.
“We were abysmal,” Mound laughed, “and two years into my coaching there, we won the Liberty League Championship for the first time in the school’s history.”
“I would say that the program has been building under Coach Mound, I have lived it and I have seen it,” said David Peretti, former captain of the Union baseball team.
Originally from Amsterdam, Mound’s love of baseball started in high school. He played for a program in the 1970’s that held the Guinness Book of World Records title for the most consecutive wins in the history of the game. This record was only recently broken eight years ago. The team he played on in high school won 77 consecutive games.
“I had some pretty great teammates. My high school catcher was a guy named Gary Tuck. He was the Yankees catching instructor during the Joe Torre era and he was the guy responsible for converting Jorge Posada from a second baseman into a catcher,” Mound said nostalgically.
Mound also created the Saratoga Stampede Baseball Club in 2001. This is a travel baseball program that joined the American Legion Baseball League in 2005. Creating this league is also part of the reason he is being inducted. He also coached Saratoga Thunder, a softball team, for a number of years. They held an excellent record of 200 wins and 20 losses, approximately.
Mound was also inducted into the Amsterdam Baseball Hall of Fame in January.
Mound received the call in July that he was to be inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
“They called me in July. They said, ‘congrats you’ve made the cut and you’re going to be inducted on November 12 and here is a list of guys you’re going in with.’ To be honest with you, I said to the guy who runs the committee, ‘what am I even doing on that list?’ Just kind of crazy,” he explained in awe.
Three other Saratogians have been inducted over the years. Fonzie Lambert from Spa Catholic and Dale Wong, also from Spa Catholic, both inducted five years ago, and Pat Pepino who was inducted two years ago.
“To think that there are four of us in that short of a span inducted is extremely humbling,” Mound said.
Mound is assisted at Union College by his son Jeff Mound who is in his eighth year of coaching, Andy Brown, who is also in his eighth year of coaching, associate head coach Art McDonald, who has been coaching alongside Mound for 18 years, and pitching coach Ryan White who is in his second year coaching.
“My entire Union coaching staff, aside from Art, are all prior Saratoga Stampede players,” Mound explained.
He credits his success to the support of his players, community, and the city of Saratoga Springs.
His previous players have nothing but kind things to say about him.
“Coach Mound is really an amazing coach and guy. I’ve never done better than when I played under his wing. He’s the sort of guy who would do anything for you. He’s a great coach and a great guy. He really turned the program around and I don’t have enough positive things to say about him,” said Tyler Heck, former Union College baseball player, who played for three years under Coach Mound.
“What I appreciate from Coach is that he will match your investment and then some. If you showed him the passion and hard work, he would double that back for you. Whether this is in baseball, a job hunt, or whatever life is throwing at you, Coach was happy and proactive to help you get to where you wanted to go,” said Peretti.
“I don’t intend to stop,” Mound said, “I’m about 70 wins away from setting the all-time winnings coach record at Union College in their history. I intend to keep that rolling because that’s the goal I’ve had since the day I started there.”