When people think of Mike Mussina, most remember the metronomic pitcher for the Yankees and Orioles who racked up an incredible 270 career wins. That makes perfect sense; he did spend 18 years pitching in Major League Baseball, after all.
Yet, before he was an MLB star, the Moose was a three-sport high school standout at Montoursville (Penn.) High. Across four years, Mussina starred on the varsity baseball team, but also was a standout on the Montoursville football and basketball squads as well. Now, after five years in retirement and 26 after he graduated from high school, Mussina is returning to his roots to give back, albeit in a way that most wouldn’t anticipate.
On Tuesday, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported that Mussina had been hired as the head coach for a varsity sports team at Montoursville, but not for the baseball team. Instead, Mussina will serve as Montoursville’s varsity basketball coach, taking over after a rough 5-17 season.
While Mussina attended Stanford strictly on a baseball scholarship, he often spoke of his love of basketball during his professional days, so perhaps its not a huge surprise that he is tying back in to one of his other loves as he turns the page on his professional future. Across his four years at Mountoursville, Mussina scored 1,382 points.
Of course, Mussina's decision to take on a new basketball challenge doesn't mean that he's giving up on baseball completely. Since his retirement Mussina has coached both junior varsity basketball and Little League baseball, and there are no indications that he plans to give up coaching a Little League squad in the near future.
At the same time, Mussina has been out of the brightest spotlight for long enough now that some of the athletes he is guiding may not fully appreciate who he even is. USA Today noted that rising Montoursville basketball player Quinten Persun’s initial reaction on Twitter following Mussina’s announcement was one of surprise about why the appointment was even a big deal.
I honestly didn't realize how big of a deal it was for Mussina to be our basketball coach haha
Kids these days; they just don’t know how good they’ve got it.
If the respect isn’t quite at the major league level, the pay for Mussina’s new role certainly isn’t, either. Once a perennial All-Star, Mussina earned north of $140 million during his playing career. His total paycheck for leading Mountoursville’s basketball team in the 2013-14 season? A stipend of just $4,170.
If that doesn’t speak to Mussina’s love for the game and his community, it’s hard to think what would.