(Atlanta, Ga.) – In ACC College Baseball, the Virginia Cavaliers have traveled to Atlanta to play a three game series against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets starting tonight. The Cavaliers have two local players on their roster, Drew Hamrock and Ben Harris, who both went to Milton High School in Alpharetta. But there is another Atlanta connection with the Cavaliers, their assistant coach, Kevin McMullan, who has been recognized twice by Baseball America as the top assistant coach in college baseball, spent one season as a manager in the Atlanta Braves minor league organization.
McMullan, whose father was an All-American football player at Notre Dame in the mid-1950s, was a two-sport star at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was an All-American in baseball as a catcher and in football as a linebacker. In a football game against Edinboro during his senior season, he was credited with 18 unassisted tackles in their 27-7 win.
After serving as an assistant coach at St. Johns and then as acting head coach at East Carolina, McMullan entered the professional ranks when he was handed the keys of the 2003 Danville Braves of the Appalachian League.
“I was hired by the Braves Director of Player Personnel Development, Dayton Moore, and I spent the spring of that season down at the minor league complex before heading to Danville for the season,”
McMullan said this morning from his hotel in Atlanta. Moore would later go on to win a World Series as the General Manager of the Kansas City Royals.
McMullan remembered his time in the pros vividly,
“Danville is a small, textile town in Virginia with great fan support. We had an aggressive general manager who got big crowds to Dan Daniel Stadium and the clubhouse manager Bill “Tiny” Setliff was a legend”
The Braves organization was in its heyday and the Danville Roster was loaded with prospects. The team had Atlanta’s first and second round draft picks from 2001 in Josh Burrus and Cole Barthel, both unfortunately didn’t pan out. However, a 19-year old right-hander named Charlie Morton got his start their and would later go on to win Game 7 of the 2017 World Series for the Houston Astros.
“We knew Charlie had a good curve ball, but he was still developing back then. The Braves did a good job of bringing along their young pitchers and I was so proud of him,”
McMullan said when asked about what he remembered about Morton while watching him clinch that Game 7.
Ultimately, McMullan decided the demands of professional ball didn’t reconcile with his family life, and he took the Virginia assistant coaching job the following season. He told a great story on how he connected the dots between the two opportunities.
“Our hitting coach, Billy Best, had a tryout camp in Danville, and a 17 year old kid, Jacob Thompson showed up. When I went on to Virginia, I remembered that and we recruited him and he had an outstanding career here.”
Thompson had a career record of 27-8 in his three years with Virginia and was drafted in 2008 by the Atlanta Braves and played his first season in his home time of Danville.
At Virginia, McMullan has seen unprecedented success which was capped off by their 2015 National Championship season.
“I just really love the game,”
is how McMullan summed up his career so far. He is continuing to coach and do the things he loves and leave a positive impact on those around him. While the game is important, the long-term connections continue to grow, and those dots keep connecting.
The story connects itself in that the man that hired McMullan, Dayton Moore, won a World Series. The player he managed in Danville, Charlie Morton, won a World Series, and ultimately, McMullan won a College World Series. McMullan is the kind of winner everyone would want to connect with.