MEADOW LANDS – Like any baseball player, Mike Deegan had dreams of playing for a Division I college program and working his way into a Major League Baseball contract.
Things didn’t work out that way when he graduated from Trinity High School.
He ended up at Marietta College, which led to a coaching gig there after graduation, which lead to a head coaching job at Denison University, which led to a rebirth of the program, which made Deegan a hall of famer.
On Friday night, Deegan was one of the honorees at the Washington-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame banquet, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Meadow Lands.
Joining Deegan in the class were Jeff Casper (Trinity), Emily Briggs (Chartiers-Houston), Blanca D’hoedt (Trinity), Drew Headlee (Waynesburg), George Linck (Washington), Jim Morris (South Hills Catholic), Sarah Riske (Peters Township), Patrick Sadler (Trinity), Brian Simmons (Peters Township), Penny Starkey (Abington H.S., Philadelphia), Joe Marconi (Special Honoree) and the 1973-74 Jefferson-Morgan football team (Team of Yesteryear).
“We all want to be players first but at some point that doesn’t happen,” said the 40-year-old Deegan. “Then you pivot. The (assistant coaching) job came open at Marietta and they had to twist my arm to take it. I was so lucky because from there I haven’t worked a day in my life after that.”
After changing the culture at Denison, Deegan finished his seventh season with a 192-102 career record, becoming Denison’s all-time winningest coach. The program made its first trip to the regional tournament last year, followed it up with another trip this season and finished the year with a school-best 39-9 record.
So, might he look for new challenges?
“We love it there,” Deegan said. “It’s a special place. Never is tough to say but I don’t have résumés out all over the place. ... It affords me all the things I like to do. But if the Pirates called, I might be interested.”
At Marietta College, Deegan was a two-time first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference and first-team All-Mideast Region in 2001 as a player. He was second in the nation in stolen bases (38) in 1999 and led the team in doubles, triples, walks and stolen bases in 2001. He batted .393 his senior year.
At Trinity, Deegan was a four-year starter in basketball and the leading scorer in the 1994-95, 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons. He graduated as Trinity’s all-time leading scorer with 1,296 points.
Deegan was a three-year starter in baseball as a shortstop and helped lead the team to the WPIAL playoffs three consecutive years, 1995-97.
“I was probably more of a basketball player at Trinity,” he said. “It was a great place to grow up. I had friends at Wash High and Trinity. I always tell people you learn so much and the people are special.”
Deegan was inducted into the Trinity High School Hall of Fame in 2012.