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New Cat coach no stranger

NOTE: PHOTO MUG: Kinneberg

UA grad Bill Kinneberg is tapped to be pitching coach. `Billy’s been a winner everywhere he has coached,’ Stitt says.

New University of Arizona baseball coach Jerry Stitt has pulled off his first recruiting coup, and it is a major one.

Bill Kinneberg, head coach at Utah, has been hired as the Wildcats’ pitching coach.

A 1980 Arizona graduate, Kinneberg has also been head coach at Wyoming and Texas-El Paso.

But he is probably best known for taking over the Arizona State coaching duties during the fatal illness of Sun Devil head coach Jim Brock in 1994.

With Kinneberg in charge, the Devils almost won the College World Series.

In his only season at Utah last spring, Kinneberg led the Utes to their best season, finishing with a 31-22 record in the Western Athletic Conference.

“Billy’s been a winner everywhere he has coached,’ Stitt said. “And I am excited to bring him home – he’s a Wildcat. This guy is one of the best college baseball coaches in the country and his record shows it.’

Kinneberg pitched for UA in 1978 and ’79, mostly in relief. The Wildcats lost to Southern Cal, 2-1, in the finals of the West Regional, held at the Trojans’ home field in ’78. Southern Cal went on to win the NCAA championship.

The following year, when Kinneberg was a senior, UA made it to the College World Series and finished fifth.

He went to Texas-El Paso as a graduate assistant in 1981 and was an assistant under coach Jim Lollar the following season.

Kinneberg followed Lollar as head coach of the Miners. He became head coach at Wyoming in 1985 and remained there until joining Brock as the pitching coach at ASU in 1993.

After Brock’s death to cancer, many Sun Devil fans and players supported Kinneberg’s candidacy for ASU head coach. But the job went to Pat Murphy of Notre Dame.

Kinneberg was out of coaching in 1995.

“It’s nice to come home,’ Kinneberg said. “I used to dream of this when I was a Wildcat player. The chance to work with Jerry Stitt is very important to he. He is a special man and a tremendous baseball coach.

“The main reason I’m coming back, professionally, is that Arizona has a chance to win the national championship if we do it right.

“I couldn’t turn down an opportunity like this. I just had to come home.’

Kinneberg attended both Douglas and Morenci high schools, but graduated in Silver City, N.M.

He attended Central Arizona College in 1976-77, then signed with UA coach Jerry Kindall.

“Billy is an excellent teacher, and he knows the game as well as anyone I have ever known,’ Stitt said. “I am excited about the coordination of our defense and pitching with him here.

“He has his own philosophy of pitching, but a lot of his ideas came under the direction of Jim Wing, our retired pitching coach.’

Wing and Kinneberg have communicated often over the years.

One of Kinneberg’s best friends is former UA All-American Terry Francona, now a coach with the Detroit Tigers.

Stitt said Kinneberg’s first official day as Wildcat pitching coach will be Monday.

Kinneberg and Janet Roubik, a flight attendant with Continental Airlines, plan to be married Aug. 10 in Denver.

Stitt has one more full-time assistant position to fill on his first Wildcat staff.

“We are currently advertising that position,’ Stitt said, “and we’ll probably start talking to candidates about August 2.’

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