Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner (Aaron Fitt)


Fall Report: Stanford

Fall Report

David Esquer’s move across the bay from Cal to Stanford comes with all kinds of juicy storylines. For starters, Esquer has to replace a living legend, who also happens to be his old coach and former boss: Mark Marquess. Esquer won a national championship as the shortstop for Marquess’ 1987 Stanford club, and then served as Marquess’ assistant from 1991-96. Before the 2000 season, Esquer took over as Cal’s head coach for the 2000 season. He spent 18 years in Berkeley, and now he returns to the other side of the rivalry.

To use a hypothetical from the basketball world, imagine if Steve Wojciechowski had left Coach K’s staff to spend 18 years as North Carolina’s head coach, then returned to Duke when Krzyzewski retired. Of course, the Stanford-Cal baseball rivalry is considerably friendlier than the frosty UNC-Duke basketball feud, but it is a fierce rivalry nonetheless. This is a pretty unique dynamic.

“Everything has been great. It’s been a pretty seamless transition,” Esquer said. “From the outside looking in, it’s probably a little intriguing and probably a little bit odd, but everyone thought it was odd the other way when I was at Cal — what was it like coaching against my alma mater and my former coach and former boss? This is a great place … The kids have been great in the transition. My relationship with Coach Marquess is as strong as ever, having him around has been great. It is a little daunting, there isn’t a high level of success for coaches taking over for legends.”

But given Esquer’s level of familiarity with the program, the recruiting base and the conference, he seems uniquely qualified to step into Marquess’ shoes. It helps, too, that Esquer inherits a veteran team that knows how to win, coming off a 42-16 season that resulted in a national seed.

“I walked into a culture with very strong camaraderie, and that’s what I stand for,” Esquer said. “I walked into a culture that works very hard independently of the coaches, that’s something that we try to foster. It’s a culture that’s very goal oriented and success driven — who could ask for more? They’ve been trained at such a high level of work, I’m not trying to change a whole lot, even though my personality and M.O. may be a little different. But a lot of values I stand for are already in place.”

Likewise, a rock-solid foundation of talented stars has already been laid. The Cardinal returns three-quarters of its infield, a pair of talented catchers, a trio of physical outfielders with emerging power, and four high-end pitching prospects to anchor the staff.

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