By Andrew Longeteig
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – A new sport is coming soon to Great Bay Community College. The Herons will launch baseball as an intercollegiate sport for the 2017-18 season and have hired veteran baseball coach Enrique “Kike” (Kee-kay) Calero to lead them into their inaugural campaign.
“I’m super excited to have local college baseball, I think it’s something the Seacoast area has been ready for,” said Calero whose 27-year baseball career includes playing professionally, coaching collegiately, pro scouting and recruiting across the United States, Puerto Rico and Latin America.
Calero, a native of Isabela, Puerto Rico, has lived in the Seacoast area in New Hampshire for the past 11 years. He’s been involved in several baseball pursuits in New England such as serving as a scout for the Tampa Bay Rays for four years as well as coaching baseball teams like the USA Mavericks, Northeast Yankees and currently the Seacoast United Pirates national showcase team.
“Baseball is huge in the Seacoast area, and until now, there hasn’t been a local college program for these athletes to attend,” said Allyson Britton, Athletic Director at Great Bay CC. “Adding the baseball program here at GBCC will open the door for many student-athletes to not only continue their education but also continue playing a sport they love.”
Calero’s vision for Great Bay’s new program is simple.
“I want us to compete and want student-athletes to come in and get the community involved in baseball,” he said. “Out of high school, many baseball players have no place to go, or are uncertain about where to go, and might need another year of growth before entering a four-year program”
Calero will hit the ground running and focus on recruiting student-athletes in time for the fall season, which begins in September. The Herons will compete in the Yankee Small College Conference, which already includes baseball teams from Southern Maine CC, Central Maine CC, and NHTI. The split season will resume in the spring of 2018.
Calero moved from Puerto Rico to the United States in 1989 after the Milwaukee Brewers offered him a professional contract. He attended Rend Lake College on a full baseball scholarship and later played in the minor leagues for the Houston Astros organization and the professional league in Puerto Rico. He began his coaching career in 1997 as an assistant coach at Mehlville High School in St. Louis.
A member of the Baseball Coaches Association since 1997 as well as the Professional Baseball and P.R. Alumni Professional Players associations, his philosophy is self-described as “old-school.”
“I still believe in the hit-and-run, sacrifice bunt and squeeze play,” Calero said. “After coming to the United States, I’ve made baseball work for me. What I tell my high school players now is to just put 100 percent into baseball and it’ll pay you back – it will definitely work for you.”
Since October 2016, Calero also has served as a national recruiting coordinator for the Seacoast United Baseball Club, which helps young players continue their careers at the collegiate level.
“Aside from the wealth of knowledge and experience Kike brings to the Herons, he is also very well respected in the community,” Britton said. “You only need to have one conversation with Kike to feel his passion for this sport and his athletes. We are thrilled to have him aboard.”
Kike Calero Baseball Career
• 1989: Offered first pro contract by the Milwaukee Brewers
• 1989: Represented Puerto Rico on St. Petersburg, Fla., prospect team
• 1990-1991: Attended Rend Lake College on full baseball scholarship
• 1991-1993: Signed and played in the Houston Astros organization
• 1991-1994: Played Pro winter baseball in Puerto Rico (Arecibo, Bayamon)
• 1994-1997: Played for O'B Clarks independent team (St. Louis)
• 1996, 1998: Played in Grand Forks International league (British Columbia)
• 1997: Assistant Baseball Coach (Mehlville High School, St. Louis)
• 1998-1999: Assistant Baseball Coach (Lindenwood University, St. Louis)
• 2000-2005: Associate Baseball Recruiter (Benedictine University, Kansas City)
• 2006-2011: Co-owner of Calero and Sullivan Baseball Management
• 2012-2016: Tampa Bay Rays Assoc. Northeast Scout
• 2007-2016: Staff member of USA Mavericks baseball program
• 2016-present: Seacoast United baseball Club National Recruiting coordinator
• 2016-present: Head coach, Great Bay CC