During his senior year of high school, Cal State Fullerton pitching coach Jason Dietrich suffered a shoulder injury that threatened to end his baseball career. After his recovery, he realized how easily the game he was so passionate about could be taken away from him.
“It taught me to appreciate everything, never take anything for granted and give it my all in everything I do,” Dietrich said. “I always reflect back on that.”
Dietrich went from being a kid who dreamed of making it to the show with his brothers, to playing professionally and ultimately being hired onto the coaching staff of a Big West title-winning Titans team.
Entering his 18th year as a coach, and his fifth at CSUF, Dietrich noted how baseball has consumed his entire life.
“There are many things I’ve gained from baseball, from friends to learning to deal with life and being persistent in my baseball career and academics,” Dietrich said.
Not only did baseball help Dietrich grow, it helped his family grow as well. He met his wife through the sport when the two were members in the same wedding party of a former teammate. The couple now has a 5-year-old son who attends Titan sports games and enjoys being around the players.
For all the gifts baseball has given him, he does acknowledge its challenges: long hours, working weekends and being away from his family.
“It’s demanding in the sense of the hours and time. You have to have a strong support system,” Dietrich said.
Prior to CSUF, Dietrich played for Rancho Santiago College until 1993. He posted a 6-1 record with a 2.69 earned-run average and eventually transferred to Pepperdine University.
According to Fullerton Athletics, he still holds records at Pepperdine for lowest batting average at .186 and most strikeouts per nine innings at 10.77.
Dietrich was drafted to the Colorado Rockies of the MLB in the 19th round after his worthy performances at Pepperdine.
After playing with the Colorado Rockies for five seasons, Dietrich became a CSUF alumnus when he graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
As a student, Dietrich saidhe admired the Titan baseball program from the stands. Having the opportunity to come back years later as a part of the coaching staff was always a dream of his.
“I was very grateful to get the opportunity to wear the Titans across my chest,” said Dietrich.
According to Dietrich, the most rewarding reason to love baseball is the brotherhood that comes with it. Additionally, Dietrich is very proud of watching the young men he coaches excel at the sport.
Dietrich works with Titan pitchers, helping them to fine tune their skills in order put on their best performance.
“He works the mental game with them pretty good and they’re prepared every time they go out,” said Titan Head Coach Rick Vanderhook.
The accolades earned throughout Dietrich’s career, however, are secondary in importance to the relationships he has built over the years.
“I do it because I just love being around the players and trying to give back and teach them the things that I’ve learned,” Dietrich said. “It’s getting to be a part of guys’ weddings, getting emails saying they have kids, how things are doing in their life. Those are things that you appreciate.”
Hayley M. Slye contributed to this story.