From left: McKenna and Jesse Foppert. Photo by Godfrey Lee. Right: Rookie Jesse Foppert of the SF Giants pitching against the Cincinnati Reds on May 3, 2003 in San Francisco. Photo by Paul Chinn/SF Chronicle.
By Godfrey Lee
Jesse Foppert, baseball coach at Marin Catholic and former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, spoke at the Marin Old Time Athletes (MOTA) dinner last Wednesday, May 1 at San Rafael Joes on Fourth Street.
He talked about his experience as a professional baseball player and about how he had come to coach baseball at Marin Catholic High School in San Rafael and run the Jesse Foppert Pitching Academy in the Bay Area.
One of the things that made Foppert successful was his competitiveness, which helped him as a baseball player when he was a student at San Rafael High and the University of San Francisco.
Before he pitched for the Giants, from 2007 to 2009, he played for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Giants Low Single A team, the Double A Shreveport and Triple A Fresno, and the Seattle Mariners.
Foppert gives credit for his success to the coaching he received as a student athlete. “For me it’s all about the coaches. They made the difference for me.
“My parents were important. But the coaches that made me gave me the confidence, and you add a little bit of competitiveness in there, and that was the difference,” he said.
Coach Bret Tovani played a major role in training Foppert when he played basketball for San Rafael.
“I did not necessarily understand that at the time, why Brett always had us run. I did not appreciate or understood it when I was 15-16 yrs old. Looking back, it made me better. When I got to college, it allowed me to work that much harder, and I really thank Bret for that.”
Steve Berringer, as an assistant coach at San Rafael High, also helped Foppert believe that he could succeed as an athlete.
Nino Giarratano and Chad Konishi, both coaches at University of San Francisco, also helped Foppert become a pitcher when they sent him to the Virginia Valley League in the summer of his junior year at the university.
He did not originally think about coaching until one of his USF coaches suggested it to him. “When I was playing, the last thing on my mind was coaching. I never had any interest in it really. I came home and did not know what I was going to do. So I enrolled in some classes in USF to finish my degree.
“I was talking with my coach, who was still at USF, who asks me why don’t I work with some kids. Maybe he saw something in me, that I could have an impact on these kids. I started with some high school kids in the city.
“From the first time I worked with a kid from San Ignacious, I knew that coaching was what I was supposed to do,” says Foppert.