Mike McRae is entering his 11th season as head coach of the Canisius baseball program. McRae has led a total rebuilding project of the Golden Griffins, taking over a team that won four games in 2004 to winning the program’s first MAAC Championship and making the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2013. McRae has a record of 304-257 in his 10 seasons at Canisius, including a 257-148 (.635) record in the last seven seasons that includes three MAAC regular-season titles.
McRae, the four-time MAAC Coach of the Year, has led Canisius to the conference tournament in each of the last eight seasons, the longest streak in the conference. Canisius won all three of its games in the 2013 MAAC Championship, including a walk-off 11-10 win in the title game, to win the program’s first conference championship. During the 2013 season, the Griffs:
- Won a program-record and MAAC-record 42 games, breaking the program record of 41 wins set during the 2008 campaign
- Posted an 11-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in program history
- Finished No. 89 in the final NCAA RPI rankings. Canisius finished in the top 90 of the RPI for the second time since 2008. The rest of the teams in the MAAC have combined to finish in the top 90 of the RPI twice in the last 12 seasons
- Had a trio of pitchers combine for a nine-inning no-hitter, the first nine-inning no-hitter in program history
- Finished second in the country with 25 road victories and 17th in the country with a .712 winning percentage
- Appeared in the MAAC Championship for the seventh consecutive season, the longest streak in the MAAC, and played in the championship round for the fourth time in the last five seasons – the only four appearances in program history
During the past six seasons, the Golden Griffins have won 217 games, putting Canisius second in wins in the Northeast region. Accolades for the Griffs during that time include:
- Second in the Northeast in wins during the last six seasons
- 31st in the country in winning percentage during the last six seasons
- 11th among schools from non-power conferences since 2008
- One of 38 schools in the country with 33-plus wins in at least five of the last six seasons
- Only school in the Northeast with 33-plus wins in five of the last six seasons
Canisius has had nine players, including two draft-eligible juniors, associated with the program selected in the Major League Baseball Draft during the past six years.
- 2013 — Garrett Cortright (40th Round — Baltimore Orioles)
- 2011 — Sean Jamieson (17th Round — Oakland Athletics)
- 2011 — Chris Cox (39th Round — Toronto Blue Jays)
- 2011 — Shane Davis (42nd Round — Toronto Blue Jays)
- 2010 — Steve McQuail (30th Round — Toronto Blue Jays)
- 2009 — Kevin Mahoney (23rd Round — New York Yankees)
- 2009 — Kevin Mailloux (45th Round — Seattle Mariners)
- 2008 — Benson Merritt (42nd Round — Cincinnati Reds)
- 2008 — Nathan Linseman (45th Round — Detroit Tigers)
Canisius has had a number of players receive conference, regional and national accolades:
- Four players (Jon Fitzsimmons in 2013, Steve McQuail in 2010 and Shane Davis and Kevin Mailloux in 2008) have been named All-Americans – the only four All-Americans in program history
- Since 2008, the Golden Griffins have earned All-MAAC First Team honors 16 times and All-MAAC Second-Team honors 15 times
- Four players have been named Freshman All-Americans since 2007, including Alex Godzak in 2013 and Devon Stewart in 2012
- Since 2007, Canisius has won the MAAC Player of the Year twice, MAAC Coach of the Year twice, MAAC Rookie of the Year four times, MAAC Relief Pitcher of the Year twice and the MAAC Pitcher of the Year once
- Eleven players have earned ABCA Northeast Region Honors since 2008, the most in the MAAC
- In 2008, Davis became the first player in league history to be named the MAAC Rookie of the Year and MAAC Pitcher of the Year in the same season.
- In 2007, Ian Choy became the first player in program history to be named the MAAC Rookie of the Year
The individual accolades have not been just on the field but also have come in the classroom:
- Canisius has had four Capital One Academic All-Americans since 2010, including Drew Pettit earning First-Team honors in 2012 and 2011. Pettit became the first MAAC male student-athlete in the last 20 years to be named a First-Team Academic All-American twice
- Ian Choy was named an Academic All-American in 2010, the first MAAC baseball player to be honored since 2004 and first Canisius player to earn the accolade since 1997.
- Sean Jamieson earned Academic All-American honors in 2011 and also was named the MAAC Male Student-Athelte of the Year, the first Canisius male athlete (in any sport) to win the award.
Canisius jumped onto the national scene in 2008 with a 21.5-game improvement in its won-loss record from 2007 (20-35), the biggest improvement in the country and second-biggest in the NCAA since 1998. Canisius was one of 31 teams in NCAA Division I with 40-plus victories. The team’s .755 winning percentage ranked ninth in the country as the Golden Griffins were one of four teams in the country with 13 or fewer losses. Canisius finished 82nd in the official NCAA RPI.
In 2008, Canisius posted a 25-6 road record, which ranked fourth in the country. Canisius, along with Miami, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and North Carolina, was one of five programs at the Division I level to finish in the top 50 in scoring, earned run average and fielding percentage.
In 2010, the Griffs won their second MAAC regular-season title in three years, jumping out to a 16-2 start in conference play en route to a 19-5 MAAC record. In 2009, Canisius posted a 36-22 record, qualifying for the MAAC Tournament for third consecutive season. After dropping its first game in the postseason, the Griffs battled back and won three consecutive elimination games to force a decisive championship game.
McRae, who has a 329-327 career record in 12 years, is the only coach in league history to be named MAAC Coach of the Year at two different schools, winning the award at Canisius (2010 and 2008) and Niagara (2003). He led the Golden Griffins to a breakout season in 2007 as Canisius made its first MAAC playoff appearance since 1994.
The Griffs made three-straight appearances in the Big 4 Baseball Classic championship game from 2005 to 2007 and won the tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009 as McRae had a career record of 10-2 in six years (four titles) of the Big 4 Baseball Classic.
The 2003 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Coach of the Year came to Canisius from Niagara University, where he led the Purple Eagles to back-to-back MAAC playoff appearances. He compiled a 65-86 overall record (.430 winning percentage) and a 41-36 (.532) MAAC mark with the Purple Eagles.
McRae set a school record for wins with 26 in 2003 and topped the mark with 27 in 2004. His 2004 squad finished second in the league, while his 2003 team was third. He coached Josh McCurdy, the 2003 MAAC Player of the Year, and recruited James Avery, the 2003 MAAC Rookie of the Year. Both players went on to be selected in the MLB Draft.
McRae began his career by becoming the first head coach at Brock University. From there, the Niagara Falls, Ontario, native joined Niagara’s staff as a hitting instructor in 1996-97 before moving to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., from 1997-98. From 1998-2001, McRae served as an assistant coach at Maine, where he was responsible for the 12-man pitching staff.
He also served as an assistant coach for the Canadian National Youth Team, which competed in the World Championships in 1996 and 1997 and as a guest coach for the Toronto Blue Jays during their 1997 spring training.
McRae was a four-year letterwinner at Colby College and captained the 1991 team. He also lettered as a goalie on the Colby College hockey team. McRae earned his undergraduate degree from Colby in 1991 and his master’s degree in education from Niagara in 1993.
McRae and his wife, Michelle, reside in Niagara Falls, with their children, Madison and Mason.