NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After 43 years of coaching, Ray Birmingham said he is ready to retire at the end of the season. The University of New Mexico Lobos baseball coach let his plans be known Sunday and formally spoke about it in a retirement ceremony Monday.
“I’m not coaching again. Some professional teams have reached out to me to do various different things and no,” said Birmingham. “I’ve been ready to retire the last couple of years, but I had some things that you don’t have a timeline on. They just have to get done. You have to stick around to get them done.”
Birmingham was talking about the facilities for Lobos baseball which have undergone a major upgrade since Birmingham has been the Lobos skipper. You could say the same about the team itself. In 14 seasons under Birmingham, the Lobos have won four Mountain West Conference titles and three Mountain West Tournament titles. The Lobos have also made five NCAA regional appearances.
Players knew he was thinking about retiring but didn’t see it coming so soon. “I was shocked,” said Lobos catcher Jarrett Gonzales. “We only found out like a couple of days ago. Not expected. We saw it coming down the road, but not so soon.”
Birmingham built a solid program by recruiting all over the country, but he always stressed getting local help. Birmingham was never shy about his pride in players who grew up playing in New Mexico. “He just really talks positive and puts nothing, but good energy out there about New Mexico kids and New Mexico itself, you know. It’s just great to hear, ” said Lobos pitcher Nathaniel Garley.
Birmingham plans to stick around UNM as an ambassador, helping to raise funds and do whatever else the school needs him to do. In his search for a new Lobos baseball coach, Athletic Director Eddie Nunez said he will take his time to find the right fit. “From my perspective, it’s finding the right person, not a replacement,” said Nunez. “It’s the next coach for UNM to follow in the foundation of what Ray’s built for this program.”
In other sports news, UNM women’s soccer found out who they will face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Wilson, North Carolina. The Mountain West champions will play Navy on April 27. The match starts at 4 p.m. It will be the first time the Lobos have played Navy.
The Artesia Bulldogs have a new football coach. Los Lunas High Coach Jeremy Maupin has accepted the job. Maupin won a state championship with the Bulldogs as a quarterback in 2004.