The 2016 season will be John Stuper’s 24th season as the head coach of baseball at Yale. With an overall career record of 439-514-3 (219-245 in Ivy League play) in the Bulldogs’ dugout, Stuper surpassed the legendary Ethan Allen in 2009 as the winningest coach in the 150-year history of Yale baseball. Stuper reached the 100-win mark faster than any coach in program history and oversaw the best four-year period (104-68) in program history from 1993-96.
With a 5-2 win in the second game of a doubleheader at Harvard on April 14, 2013, thanks to four Yale pitchers who combined to strike out 13 Harvard batters, Stuper earned the 400th victory of his coaching career on April 14, 2013.
The 13th head coach in Yale baseball history, Stuper has led the Bulldogs to three Red Rolfe Division titles and two Ivy League championships. The 1993 squad, Stuper’s first, was his best, winning a school-record 33 games, earning an NCAA Regional appearance, and setting numerous school records, including 160 stolen bases in 44 games. He earned 1993 New England Division I Coach of the Year and Northeast Region Division I Coach of the Year honors. The Bulldogs won the Ivy League championship in each of his first two seasons.
“I try to tailor my offensive game plan to my talent. I want to run. I like to steal bases because it disrupts things,” Stuper said. Yale base runners have stolen 1,200 bases in his 20 seasons at the helm.
Through 2013 Stuper has seen 34 of his players sign professional contracts during his tenure at Yale. Most recently, Pat Ludwig (Pittsburgh Pirates), Nolan Becker (Cincinnati Reds) and Charlie Neil all signed to play professionally in 2012. Pitcher Rob Cerfolio was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2013 MLB Draft, but returned to Yale for his final season in 2014. Cerfolio’s selection represented the ninth straight year that a Yale player was selected in the draft, which is the longest current consecutive stretch of draft selections by any school in the Ivy League.
Brandon Josselyn, the 2009 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, the sixth player to earn that distinction under Stuper, was drafted in June 2009 by the Seattle Mariners. Left-handed pitcher Craig Breslow, the captain of Yale’s 2002 squad, is in his 11th season on a Major League roster.
Stuper has also coached two All-Americans while at Yale, including Ryan Lavarnway, the 2007 NCAA batting and slugging percentage champion. Lavarnway was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox. Lavarnway and Breslow are currently on the 25-man major league roster of the Boston Red Sox.
“I want my team to be difficult to play against,” said the former major leaguer, who was managed by Whitey Herzog and Pete Rose. Not coincidentally, he lists them as two of his biggest influences. “I watched how they ran a game. Their knowledge of the game, work ethic and preparation were second to none, especially Whitey with his aggressive style. (At Yale) we want to make things happen, not wait for things to happen. Having a versatile team will give us the ability to score runs in a lot of different ways.”
Stuper pitched in the major leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds from 1982-85, appearing in a total of 111 games. He posted a 32-28 overall record with a 3.96 earned run average. His most memorable performance came with the Cardinals in the sixth game of the 1982 World Series. With St. Louis trailing the Milwaukee Brewers, three games to two in the best-of-seven series, the right-hander helped the Cardinals even the series with a 13-1 complete-game, four-hit victory. St. Louis went on to win the Series the following day. Sports Illustrated listed his World Series performance among the 10 best by a rookie pitcher in the history of postseason play.
The only two-time all-conference baseball and basketball player at Butler County Community College (1976-77), Stuper fashioned a 34-3 collegiate record. He also helped Point Park (Pa.) College to the NAIA World Series in 1978, while earning NAIA All-America honors.
Stuper, who received his bachelor’s degree from LaRoche College and his master's degree in English at Slippery Rock University in 1989, continued as head coach at Butler until March 1991, when he returned to the Cardinals as a minor league pitching instructor. He remained with the Cardinals until taking over the Bulldogs’ clubhouse in 1993. His wife, Pam, is the head field hockey coach at Yale. They currently reside in Hamden.