Darren Lewis stole 247 bases, had over 1,000 hits and won a Gold Glove during his 13-year MLB career. (Photo: Kelly Hayes)
Head Coach Bob Ralston and the Cal State East Bay baseball program announced the hiring of former major leaguer Darren Lewis as an assistant coach on Thursday. The local product played professional baseball with seven teams, including the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, making three playoff appearances and collecting a Gold Glove as a centerfielder during his 13-year career.
“We're happy to welcome Darren to our staff,” Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis said. “His vast experience as a player and coach in the major leagues will be a great asset to the baseball program. We are excited to have him and are looking forward to seeing what he and Coach Ralston have in store for the team.”
Lewis joins the Pioneer staff after spending the last four years as a baseball coach at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon. He spent one season as the junior varsity coach before becoming an assistant for the varsity squad for three years. During his time there, he helped guide the Wildcats to consecutive North Coast Section playoff appearances.
Drafted in the 18th round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 1988 by the Oakland Athletics, Lewis was an All-Star at every level in the minor leagues before making his professional debut on Aug. 21, 1990, going 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt for the A's against the White Sox at Old Comiskey Park in Chicago. Lewis was a member of Oakland's 1990 World Series team before being traded to San Francisco in December 1990.
During his five-year stint with the Giants, Lewis made a name for himself as an outstanding outfielder and base stealer. In 1993, Lewis ranked fourth in the National League with his career-high 46 stolen bases and continued his career-long errorless streak, finishing the season at 333 consecutive games without an error, dating back to his MLB debut. Though the 1994 season was cut short due to a strike, Lewis joined two other Giants as Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners that year, while leading the national league in triples, finishing fifth in the league in stolen bases with 30 and ranking 16th in the NL in runs with 70. That season also marked the end of Lewis' errorless streak, which was snapped on July 30 against the Montreal Expos. Lewis still holds the major league record for consecutive games without an error in the outfield at 392.
In the summer of 1995, Lewis was traded to the Cincinnati Reds where he finished his third consecutive season with at least 30 stolen bases before signing with the Chicago White Sox as a free agent. Over the next three seasons, Lewis spent time with both the White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers before signing with Boston Red Sox in December 1997. During four seasons with the Red Sox, Lewis scored 220 runs, stole 60 bases and committed just eight errors in 974 chances. In his first season with Boston in 1998, Lewis was given the team's Unsung Hero Award as voted on by the Red Sox fans. Lewis finished his playing career in 2002 with a .250 lifetime batting average, over 1,000 hits, a .994 fielding percentage (16 errors in 2,838 total chances) and 247 stolen bases.
After retiring from the majors, Lewis got his coaching start within the San Francisco Giants organization, where he was the baserunning and outfield coordinator for five years. As a player, Lewis also had the advantage of working with and learning from noted MLB managers Tony LaRussa, Roger Craig, Dusty Baker, Davey Johnson, Don Baylor and Jimy Williams, who among them boast 28 playoff appearances, nine league manager of the year awards, 22 division titles and three World Series championships as managers.
A 1985 graduate of Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, Lewis played two seasons at Chabot College before transferring to Cal. As a junior at Cal, Lewis was a member of the 1988 Golden Bear squad that advanced to the College World Series prior to being drafted and signing with the A's. Lewis was a member of the inaugural induction class into the Moreau High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and is also a member of Chabot College's Hall of Fame.
After his major league career was over, Lewis returned to UC Berkeley and completed his bachelor's degree in social science in 2009.
“This position will give me the privilege to teach the game I love and, at the same time, mentor talented student-athletes,” Lewis said. “More importantly, it provides Coach Ralston and I the opportunity to build a winning program that the university and East Bay community will be proud of for many years to come."
Ralston and Lewis will set out to help the Pioneers make a name for themselves in the CCAA during the 2012 campaign, the first in which Cal State East Bay is eligible for the postseason since returning to NCAA Division II competition in 2009-10.