Mike McRae is entering his 12th 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 two MAAC Championships and making the program’s first appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and 2015. McRae has a record of 338-287 in his 11 seasons at Canisius, including a 291-175 (.624) record in the last eight 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 nine seasons, the longest streak in the conference. in its most recent championship, the Griffs lost the first game, but reeled off five-straight victories, including a two-game championship round, to capture its second title. In 2013, Canisius won all three of its games in the 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:
During the past seven seasons, the Golden Griffins have won 241 games, putting Canisius first in wins in the Northeast region. Accolades for the Griffs during that time include:
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.
Canisius has had a number of players receive conference, regional and national accolades:
The individual accolades have not been just on the field but also have come in the classroom:
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 363-357 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, his daughter Madison and son Mason, reside in Niagara Falls.