PORTLAND—Maybe you can go home again.
Mike Rutherford sure hopes so.
The Portland High graduate and longtime teacher at the school is returning for a second stint as baseball coach, PHS athletic director Rob O’Leary announced Wednesday.
The announcement of Rutherford, who previously coached the Bulldogs from 1995 to 2006, compiling a record of 192-58, with seven trips to the Western A Final, three trips to the state game and a Class A state championship in 1998, wasn’t a big surprise. Once Tony DiBiase stepped down after four seasons, Rutherford was viewed by many to be the favorite for the job.
“I wanted to end my career where it started,” Rutherford said. “I didn’t have aspirations for it to happen now, but I wanted to get back into varsity coaching. I’ve taught here since 1990. I went to school here. I know the kids.”
“Mike’s name stuck out from the beginning,” O’Leary said. “He’s very familiar with the program and has a successful track record. He’s very well respected.”
Rutherford, Portland High Class of 1983, went on to play baseball at the University of Southern Maine. He also spent four seasons coaching baseball at Westbrook High, where he went 59-20, reaching the regional final three times.
Rutherford previously served as Portland’s junior varsity baseball coach and is also an assistant to Jim Hartman with the football program.
Rutherford inherits a Bulldogs squad which went 10-7 last season, losing to Windham in the Western A preliminary round. Graduation hit the program hard, meaning there is some reloading to do, but the new coach is optimistic about what he has to work with.
“My goal is to bring the program back to where it was before, when we were the number one or two team for years,” said Rutherford, who teaches advanced placement U.S. History at Portland High. “That’s the challenge. We have good talent, but not a lot of experience. Ryan Ruhlin is the only real returning varsity player. I’m looking forward to it. It will be fun to get back on the field.”
After eight seasons away, Mike Rutherford will return as Portland’s varsity baseball coach this spring.