Will Bolt was formally introduced as Nebraska’s 24th head baseball coach on Thursday. Athletic Director Bill Moos handed him a Husker cap and a No. 7 Husker jersey with “BOLT” on the back; Bolt wore No. 7 when he played at Nebraska (1998-2002).
Before he handed the jersey and hat to his sons, Jaxon and Austin, Bolt put on the cap and pulled it down so it nearly covered his eyes. It could’ve been 2002 again—well, except for the blue suit and red tie. But if you watched him play, you probably know what I mean.
Bolt wore his cap low, almost as if it were a size too big. You couldn’t see the intensity in his eyes. But he had a no-nonsense hard edge, or so it seemed. He always competed to the last out.
His approach to the game was that of a captain, which he was, twice.
Bolt continued to answer questions on Thursday long after the formal remarks and group questions, accommodating one-on-ones as well as smaller groups.
That’s the nature of news conferences, of course, comments recorded to be reviewed and reported later, highlights immediately passed along on social media.
In the case of Huskers coming home, however, such events evoke memories, like Bolt’s cap worn low and his intensity on the field; and on this particular Thursday, a sense of Nebraska’s baseball tradition, reflected in some who attended the news conference as observers rather than reporters.
Ron Douglas, who lettered in 1962 through 1964, had a picture taken with Bolt, as did Dr. Gene Stohs, an All-America outfielder in 1972. Mark Honnor (1982-86) was there, as was Daniel Bruce, a Freshman All-American in 2002, a player with determination comparable to Bolt’s as reflected in the fact that by the end of his Husker career he had been hit by pitches 67 times.
No need to look that one up. It’s still the school record.
Bruce was a senior in 2005, when new assistant Jeff Christy was a Husker junior, having transferred from Barton County (Kan.) Community College. Nebraska reached the College World Series for a third time that season, and won a game in Omaha—the only time that’s happened.
As mentioned earlier, I came away from Thursday’s news conference with a sense of Husker tradition. Douglas and Stohs played for Tony Sharpe, the head coach from 1947 to 1977. Honnor played for John Sanders, the head coach from 1978 to 1997. Bruce played for Dave Van Horn (1998-2002) and Mike Anderson (2003-13). And Christy played for Anderson.
Other former players were on-hand Thursday, but I picked those four, with Christy, because they represented different eras and because, like Christy, they’re all Nebraskans. Douglas was from Crete, Stohs from Grand Island, Honnor from Lincoln, and Bruce from Omaha.
The 2005 team was heavy-laden with in-state players, in prominent roles. Keeping the best in Nebraska at-home is a priority, Bolt said, and if they’re not an immediate fit, establishing a good relationship with junior colleges because in a year or two they might be.
Husker recruiting depends on more than in-state players. But understanding their value is part of knowing what makes Nebraska unique, something that’s crucial to the program’s success.
Lance Harvell, Bolt’s other full-time assistant, isn’t from Nebraska and didn’t play for the Huskers. But he has family connections in Seward, Nebraska, and more importantly, a solid relationship with Bolt and Christy, all of this by way of saying it appears Moos has made another home-run hire.
In this case, “home-run” is an appropriate description. For the record, if you’re curious, Bolt played in 251 games as a Husker, he had 922 official at-bats, and he hit 11 home runs.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.