WEST LIBERTY - Former West Liberty student Ray Searage will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at West Liberty University's fall commencement, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Searage also will deliver the commencement address to the 147 students graduating and is returning to campus from his home in Tampa, Fla.
"We were fortunate to enjoy Ray as a member of our conference championship baseball programs in the 1970s. Following the conclusion of his sophomore year he was named West Virginia conference Pitcher of the Year and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. We are very proud of the recent contributions he's made to the rebuilding of the Pittsburgh Pirates program as their pitching coach," said WLU Athletic Director Jim Watson, who was head baseball coach of the Hilltoppers from 1971-81.
HONOREE AT WORK — Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, left, will be the speaker Saturday at West Liberty University’s fall commencement. — Ian Hicks
Searage just completed his third full season as pitching coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates. One of the most respected pitching mentors in the game, the West Liberty University Hall of Famer has enjoyed a 36-year professional baseball career as a player and coach, with the last 11 in the Pirates' organization.
A graduate of Deer Park (N.Y.) High School on Long Island, Searage played a key role on Watson's West Virginia Conference championship teams in1975 and 1976. Honored as the 1976 WVIAC Pitcher of the Year, Searage was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the June 1976 draft and made his major league debut in a relief appearance with the New York Mets on June 11, 1981. Searage earned his first major league win later that season, beating the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 11. In that game, Searage singled off Dick Tidrow in his first career plate appearance.
Searage spent seven seasons in the big leagues as a reliever, pitching for the Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. He posted an 11-13 record with 11 saves and a 3.50 ERA in 254 career games out of the bullpen. He struck out 193 batters while giving up 267 hits in 287.2 innings.
Searage began his coaching career in 1994, working as a pitching coach in the Cardinals' farm system. He went to Orlando, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Class AA affiliate, for three years before being hired as the Florida Marlins' minor league pitching coordinator in 2000.
He came to the Pirates' organization two years later and spent seven seasons as pitching coach at various levels before joining the major league staff on Oct. 17, 2009. Searage took over as interim pitching coach on Aug. 8, 2010, and was hired as the pitching coach on Nov. 24 of that year.
Inducted into the West Liberty Hall of Fame in 2008, Searage and his wife, Vicki, have three sons: Raymond II, Ryan and Robbie.