Ferndale baseball coach's short-term goals include Gold title; long term, states

By: Mike Moore | Woodward Talk | Published April 7, 2015

 Jack Michalak runs under a fly ball during practice at Ferndale. Coach Chris Bailey said the Eagles will be more of an aggressive team this spring.

Jack Michalak runs under a fly ball during practice at Ferndale. Coach Chris Bailey said the Eagles will be more of an aggressive team this spring.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


FERNDALE — He’s been part of successful programs in his own backyard and where a decent amount of travel was required.

But Chris Bailey is back closer to home, back coaching the sport he loves, and now working on turning Ferndale High baseball into a yearly competitor in the Oakland Activities Association — and maybe beyond.

“This is an area I know very well,” Bailey said last week. “Getting to Ferndale worked out really well. This is a great spot with a great athletic director, a great booster club and a great possibility to build something special with this program.”

Bailey, who grew up in Royal Oak and graduated from Royal Oak Shrine in 1991, began his coaching career with the Knights in 2003.

He worked on the junior varsity team until 2006, when he served as head varsity coach until 2010.

During his time with Shrine, he was a part of six district titles, two regional titles and a trip to the 2003 state finals.

After Shrine, Bailey coached for four seasons at Wayne Memorial, winning a district crown in 2012.

“But it was tough to work so far from home,” Bailey, now a Hazel Park resident, said. “It was tough for me to put 100 percent into the program like I needed to, especially in the offseason and winter.”

So when John Sibula stepped down from the Ferndale coaching job, Bailey felt like it was a perfect fit for him.

“I wanted to be closer to home,” he explained. “And I inherited a pretty good team here.”

Ferndale has some good pieces back from last year’s roster, though Bailey said he expects to do things a little differently, administering more of his own coaching tendencies and styles.

“We’re going to play some exciting baseball,” he explained. “I plan to coach an aggressive brand, with a lot of small ball, bunting, stealing, hitting and running. We’re not going to sit back and wait for anything.”

He also, like many coaches, plans to dedicate plenty of time and attention to pitching and defense.

“I had a coach that always told me one run can win you a baseball game,” Bailey said. “I’m a firm believer in that.”

There will be an adjustment period, though, as he learns about his guys and they learn about him.

But is the success Bailey experienced at Shrine and Wayne Memorial what he expects at Ferndale?

“Absolutely,” he stressed. “I think there’s a process as far as building a program, but this is a group capable of winning the OAA Gold this year.”

When asked about beyond this spring, Bailey was equally ambitious.

“My long-term goals are the same no matter where I am,” he explained. “I want Ferndale (to) be competitive on a yearly basis and eventually get to a point where we’re contending for a state title.”