ST. BONAVENTURE — Jason Rathbun has been named the next head coach of the St. Bonaventure University baseball program. Rathbun turned Herkimer Community College baseball into one of the most successful and consistent junior college programs in the country during his 17 years at the helm, moving to Bona’s after winning the 2022 national championship.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Jason and his family to St. Bonaventure,” said Joe Manhertz, Bonnies director of athletics. “We had an unbelievable pool of candidates and Jason exhibits a perfect fit of what we are looking for to lead our young men. His tenacity, enthusiasm and winning track record will serve our kids well as they prepare for baseball and life. I can’t wait to watch him build Bonnies Baseball.”
In Rathbun’s time at Herkimer, he guided the Generals to a 556-180 overall record while averaging over 30 wins per season.
Rathbun’s squads were nationally ranked in 16 out of his 17 seasons in charge and made eight trips to the NJCAA World Series. His teams enjoyed unprecedented success in the region, winning 15 conference championships and advanced to the regional final 12 times. He also led 75 All-Region players, 25 All-Americans and a trio of Major League Baseball Draft selections.
Three of Rathbun’s Herkimer teams finished third nationally in the NJCAA World Series before his crowning achievement this past June when the Generals captured their first national title.
Herkimer won this year’s national championship in convincing fashion, outscoring teams by a 37-14 margin in the World Series. Rathbun was named Coach of the National Tournament following the championship victory. Following the season, he was named the NJCAA Division III National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
“I am getting the chance to live my dream of being a Division I head coach. I am so thankful that Joe Manhertz and his staff have given me this opportunity that I have worked so hard for,” Rathbun said. “I believe Mr. Manhertz is a great leader and I am excited to work under him and his staff. I think St. Bonaventure has great opportunities for student-athletes, with a very strong alumni base. I am tremendously excited to get to work at building something special here. Go Bonnies.”
In Rathbun’s seasons leading Herkimer, the Generals won over 75% of their games and he was crowned NJCAA Region III Coach of the Year four times as well as Mountain Valley Conference Coach of the Year following seven seasons. In 2014, he was named to the Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame.
He took his alma mater to new heights immediately after taking the job in 2005, leading Herkimer CC to its first-ever 20-win season and a trip to the Region III Final Four for the first time in 15 years. In just his second season, he led the Generals to their first Region III title and inaugural trip to the Division III NJCAA College World Series.
From there, Rathbun made winning on the national level routine at Herkimer.
The Generals finished third at nationals in 2007, at the time the best finish ever for a Region III, Division III team, and achieved a No. 4 national ranking two years later. After another regional championship and third-place finish at nationals in 2010, the Generals rose to No. 3 in the national polls in 2012 and No. 7 in 2013. In 2014, Herkimer set a new program record with 41 wins and another trip to the World Series before winning 48 games including a 33-game win streak and a No. 1 overall national ranking in 2015.
Rathbun’s winning ways only continued as Herkimer rose to top-five in the national polls again in 2016, capturing conference crowns every year from that point through this past spring. In the past two completed seasons, Herkmier won the regional title each year on either side of the pandemic-canceled 2020 campaign, taking a No. 6 national ranking into the World Series this year before running the table as a Cinderella story in the national tournament.
It marked the first junior college national title for any team from the state of New York.
A Central New York native, Rathbun served a three-year commitment in the U.S. Army, after which he played collegiately at Herkimer as a two-way player. Upon his graduation from Herkimer, he moved to Division II Erksine College in South Carolina where he posted a 2.64 ERA on the hill as a senior. He holds an associate’s degree from Herkimer CC, a bachelor’s in sports management from Erksine and a master’s degree in sports psychology from Capella University. He and his wife Melissa have two daughters, Alivia and Alexandria, and a son, AJ, who is a fifth-generation family member to serve the United States military as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.
This summer, Rathbun has been coaching in the most prestigious summer league in the country as pitching coach for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League.
In addition, Rathbun will retain the services of B.J. Salerno as associate head coach. Salerno, a Warren Area (Pa.) High School graduate served as interim head coach during the 2022 season following eight seasons as an assistant with the Bonnies. He previously was an assistant coach at Jamestown Community College.