He helped Boise State relaunch baseball. Now he’ll lead the Hawks into the Pioneer League

 Gary Van Tol
Posted at 5:17 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 19:17:47-05

This article was originally published by Ron Counts in the Idaho Statesman.

Former Boise State baseball coach Gary Van Tol will return for his second stint as the Boise Hawks manager, the club announced Tuesday.

Before he orchestrated baseball’s return at Boise State after a 40-year hiatus, Van Tol spent 10 years in the Chicago Cubs organization as a minor league manager and coach in the Northwest League. He led the Hawks to the league championship game in 2013 and the semifinals in 2014.

“This is the first step in building a winner. When you talk about baseball people in the Treasure Valley, Gary’s name is one of the first — if not the first — to be brought up,” Hawks General Manager Mike Van Hise said Tuesday in a press release. “This was a no-brainer to start with him in ushering in a new era of Boise Hawks baseball. I’m confident that with Gary’s leadership and eye for baseball talent, we’re going to put together a team that is going to compete on day one and every day thereafter.”

Van Tol joins the Hawks a little more than a month after the club announced it joined the nine-team Pioneer League, an independent MLB “partner league.” The Hawks lost their spot in the affiliated Northwest League as MLB restructured the minors.

Van Tol was hired at Boise State in 2017 and spent more than a year preparing for the Broncos’ debut season in 2020, which was cut short by COVID-19 last March after just 14 games. The Broncos were 9-5 when the season was canceled.

The 53-year-old’s tenure at Boise State came to an end in July when the university announced it was cutting its baseball and swimming and diving programs in an effort to trim $2.2 million from an ailing annual budget.

Van Tol, who has lived in Boise since 2008, called the opportunity to return to the Hawks a privilege and suggested Tuesday that he intends to take his staff from Boise State with him.

Travis Buck was his hitting and outfield coach at Boise State in 2020, and Michael van Kampen and Brock Huntzinger worked with the pitching staff.

“Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure to get to know Gary both on and off the diamond. His passion for the game is evident; whether it’s his youth program here to him being a manager of professional ballplayers,” Hawks Vice President Bob Flannery said in the press release. “Gary was popular with the Hawks fan base and continued to be so when he was an opponent of ours. That says a lot about him and how he treats others and I believe his players will enjoy playing for him.”