The Remarkable Story Of Hogs’ Dave Van Horn 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — University of Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn is a remarkable story.

His teams at Arkansas and Nebraska qualified for nine College World Series, the most among all active head coaches, and won six outright conference championships.

In his 34-year college head coaching career, he has posted a 1,381-663 record.

His teams have made 22 trips to the NCAA tournament in the last 25 years.

He is one of only 11 coaches in NCAA history to lead two programs to the NCAA Div. I College World Series.

He also celebrated a national championship at Central Missouri State as the skipper.

Van Horn grew up in Kansas City with very little as he learned about hard work from his dad Joe.

“I had to work for everything that I’ve received in life,” said Van Horn.

“My dad was a plumber. During the summers when I got a little older, I worked with him and did the hard stuff. I did the digging of water lines by hand from the street to homes. It was hard, physical work.

“At one point, I asked my dad why I always had to do the hard job of digging trenches by hand? He told me he could either pay me $7 an hour or rent a Ditch Witch.”

When Van Horn was 14 and 15 years old, he worked at five different baseball stadiums located close to each other picking up trash for $7 an hour and made about $800 a summer.

Then he played baseball at night.

“I worked seven days a week from the time the season started until it ended cleaning those stadiums. I helped with everything. I will never forget those two summers.

“I turned 16 in September of my sophomore year of high school, and I went out and purchased a 1968 green Pontiac Firebird for about $700 which was close to 12 years old. I pretty much lived at the ball park during two summers. I also learned how to fix a baseball field. All of this carried over into what I have done for living for many years now.

His passion for baseball grew the more he played the game.

A remarkable athlete, he played two seasons at McLennan Community College in Texas and earned All-American recognition as a third baseman.

He went on to play at Arkansas for one year and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and was All-Southwest Conference.

Following his junior year at Arkansas, he was drafted in the 10th round of the 1982 MLB Draft by Atlanta and spent three seasons in the Braves’ organization before returning to Arkansas to begin his coaching career as a graduate student from 1985-88.

He then coached at Texarkana Community College for five years, Central Missouri St. for one year, Northwestern St. for three years and the University of Nebraska for five years.

Then he was hired at the University of Arkansas and has coached there for the past 20 years and led the Razorbacks to seven College World Series appearances and 18 NCAA tournament berths and racked up 796 wins.

This remarkable coach earned a base salary of $1.3 million for 2022, according to records obtained by the USA Today Sports Network in its rundown of what all 14 Southeastern Conference head coaches made in 2022 last June.

Not bad for a guy who used to pick up trash and dig ditches as a young man.

To read more of this in-depth article on Dave Van Horn, purchase the Jan. 6, 2023 edition of Collegiate Baseball. It explains how he learned to coach at Texarkana Community College and initially didn’t have an assistant as he did everything. He explains why hiring great assistants is vital and why allowing them to do their job without micromanaging everything is essential.

He also explains why he searches for players who have a superior work ethic and love the game. Van Horn also talks about what he learned from his coaching mentors, his $27 million Player Development Center, how he develops his players, why he leaves the weekend to his players in the fall to get away from baseball, how listening to your players can pay big dividends and much more.

To purchase the Jan. 6, 2023 issue or subscribe, CLICK HERE.