By Ken McCanless
MAY 23, 2018
ARCATA — The 74th season of the Humboldt Crabs promises to be one of great fun and great baseball. Head Coach Robin Guiver will preside over the club for his second season after serving at length under Ken “Shorty” Ames and Matt Nutter and then stepping aside with the birth of his first child.
Guiver lived and coached high school baseball in the Santa Cruz area for three years, while concurrently helping then-manager Tyson Fisher recruit players, but always had his heart up north. He says his son, now four, would constantly ask about when they were coming back up to the Humboldt area and go to games. The Guiver clan now has more company, as he brings his one-year-old son back up for this year of action.
It was as a player when Guiver started his Crab experience, in 1998, having been sent here by one of his coaches at Washington State University. He had the opportunity to coach immediately after his two-year playing career, and was especially thankful for his long-term relationship with Ned Barsuglia and the camaraderie they fostered when recruiting players.
The coach called the transition back into coaching the Crabs a smooth one (he still lives in Santa Cruz and coaches at San Lorenzo Valley High, but brings his family up for summers), and sees baseball as an opportunity for players to learn lessons that will translate into life in general.
“In terms of being on the field, I definitely think the game has a lot to offer,” said Guiver. “The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Coaching college players that are successful at their schools is a lot of fun, seeing their work ethic. The reason they are where they are is that they've put so much time and dedication in. It's kind of re-energizing being around those guys all summer. It reminds me how much work goes in, but in the end the rewards are well worth it.”
Guiver said the recruitment process for this summer began in August of last year, when the staff would touch base with players they would like to see return for the following season, and continue to actively seek out players as colleges started their fall seasons in September and October. The roster was still fluid in the months and weeks approaching the season, with the Crabs expecting to see two pitchers and one position player return from last season, which Guiver called somewhat typical. He says that the biggest recruiting tool the team has is players who go back and tell their college coaches how valuable their experience has been, leading to their teammates wanting to be Crabs.
“We don't really know what team we have until we get them to Arcata,” said Guiver. “Even up until the week before they're supposed to be there, that's when we know we've got them for the summer. They've got a lot of things going on in their lives with their college programs and their education so I try to do the best job I can to make sure we're getting guys who seem like they're going to be able to make it happen during the summer. Most of the guys want to come play for us and are excited about it.”
Guiver commended assistant coach Eric Giacone on his work putting together the season's schedule, which sees the Crabs open up June 1st against the Corvallis Knights, one of the best teams on the West Coast. The Arcata squad takes trips to visit the Healdsburg Prune Packers along with a venture to San Luis Obispo to take on the Blues. The coach also praised the quality of the Redding Colt 45s, who the Crabs take on both home and away this season.
Along with Guiver, the Crabs will be coached by Giacone, formerly Eureka High's baseball coach, and Brad Morgan, who captained the College of the Redwoods team this season. Guiver previously coached both Giacone and Morgan, and now stands alongside them. Finally, the Crabs recently added John Bryant to the coaching staff, who currently coaches California top playoff seed Orange Coast Junior College and was a national champion at Cal State Fullerton under ex-Crab Augie Garrido before playing eight years in the minor leagues.
“The schedule is going to be pretty tough, I think,” said Giacone. “We open up with maybe one of the best teams on the schedule and the best teams on the West Coast in the Corvallis Knights.”
In touting the strength of the rest of the Crabs' adversaries, Giacone said that comparatively speaking, there are potentially fewer blowouts on this year's docket than there have been in the past ten years. He also pointed out how new players quickly absorb the Crabs' mentality.
Read the full story in the Crabs annual program.