NORMAL — Drafted in the 17th round by the San Francisco Giants in 2001 after an All-American career as a shortstop at Oral Roberts, Steve Holm suddenly found catching equipment in his locker.
“I had never caught until I got to pro ball and there was a pile of (catching) gear in my locker,” Holm said. “I thought I better learn to like to catch.”
It was that adaptability and versatility that played a factor in Illinois State director of athletics Larry Lyons naming Holm as the new Redbird baseball coach Friday.
A former major league catcher with San Francisco and Minnesota, Holm has served as Purdue’s pitching coach the past two seasons.
“We feel Steve’s background as an All-American shortstop, a professional catcher and collegiate pitching coach gives him the ability to make our team immediately better in every facet of the game,” Lyons said.
“His success in helping programs improve in relatively short periods of time is impressive, and we are very excited Steve and his family have chosen to join the Redbird family.”
The 38-year-old Holm also was the associate head coach at Sacramento State before joining the Purdue staff.
“This is obviously a place where they have won in the past. That’s a huge box to check for me,” Holm said of ISU. “My wife (Lindsey) is from St. Louis. When we moved out to California, I made the promise to get her back. Purdue was close, but this head coaching job is even closer.”
The strength of the Missouri Valley Conference was vital to Holm.
“The Missouri Valley is a multi-bid (NCAA Tournament) league,” said Holm. “It’s not lost on me I’m being allowed to skip a step. Most first-time head coaches are landing in single-bid leagues. This league allows for multiple teams to get in.”
Holm joined Purdue head coach Mark Wasikowski for a remarkable Boilermaker revival. Purdue was 10-44 in 2016 before improving to 29-27 in 2017. The Boilermakers were 38-21 this spring and played in the NCAA Tournament.
"Steve is a very smart and well-calculated baseball mind," Wasikowski said. "He was a critical part of the Purdue baseball program's turnaround over the last two years. Illinois State made an outstanding decision hiring Coach Holm. He is a proven winner.”
A 17th round draft choice of the Giants in 2001, Holm made his major league debut in 2008. He saw 84 of his 108 major league at-bats that season and hit his lone big league home run.
Holm played briefly with San Francisco in 2009 and closed his major league career in 2011 with the Twins.
“I played for some incredible managers in Bruce Bochy and Ron Gardenhire. They really taught you the game at a high level,” said Holm. “I think I did come into college baseball a little more well-rounded than other people coming in.”
Holm classified his coaching style as “putting players in situations to have success. They will be allowed to stay within themselves and use their abilities.”
Lyons said Holm has signed a five-year contract with a base salary of $126,000 and performance incentives.
“Our goal was to find the best person to lead our baseball program back to the top of the Missouri Valley Conference and to compete for postseason opportunities,” said Lyons.
“In addition, we were looking for the best person to continue our high level of academic success and personal development of the young men in our program. Steve brings all of that and many more intangibles.”
Steve and Lindsey Holm were married in 2013 and are the parents of daughters Annika and Hanna.