New University of Hawaii baseball coach Rich Hill has added to his initial coaching staff with Atlanta Braves scout and 1991 Aiea High School graduate Dan Cox.
NCAA Division I teams are permitted to have two paid full-time assistant coaches. After announcing the addition of Kaiser alum Dave Nakama on July 9, Cox fills the final spot on Hill’s staff, although multiple volunteer assistant coaches are expected to join the team as well.
All the latest sports news from Hawaii’s sports station
“I’ve always had a lot of pride being the local boy from Hawaii that got a chance to do something that a lot of people dream they could do and work in baseball,” Cox told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “But now to actually have ‘Hawaii’ across my chest because I’m working for the University of Hawaii, it’s a dream come true. It really is.”
Cox comes to Manoa with over two decades of MLB scouting experience, most recently with the Braves. He has also scouted for the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins. During Cox’s time with the Twins, the franchise selected Kolten Wong in the 16th round of the 2008 MLB Draft. Wong ultimately decided to attend the University of Hawaii, where he became the only position player in program history to have his jersey number (14) retired. Before his time as a scout, Cox worked a variety of jobs with the Angels organization, including a role as an assistant to the general manager.
“When I was working for the Angels, I never thought I’d leave the (front) office. I loved it. I got into scouting and I did that for 21 years and I never thought I’d leave that. I thought I’d do that ‘til I retire and then Rich Hill gave me a phone call out of nowhere and it kind of made sense,” Cox said. “I mean, here’s a guy who really embraces the Hawaiian culture and he loves to surf and paddleboard, we all know that, but more than anything else, he had a vision. He had a vision about coming to Hawaii, leaving a program that he won at and was there forever, coming to Hawaii and starting something special and the only way he was gonna have that happen and come to fruition and win in Hawaii is to have the right staff and that’s kind of the way he sold it.”
Cox was living the baseball dream and was fulfilled by his role with the Braves, where he most recently discovered a diamond in the rough in Hawaii-Hilo pitcher and Saint Louis alum Dylan Spain.
But after his unexpected phone call with Hill, Cox is ready to spread his wings and come back home. In doing so, he hopes to help set a new precedent for Hawaii baseball.
“Rich Hill has a vision of creating a brand and a culture to where all the Hawaii players want to stay home. They want to be part of something special,” Cox says. “They want to win in Hawaii, they want to be part of that group that’s gonna say, ‘Hey, I was part of that group. I was part of that new wave, that new brand of Rainbow baseball that got to a regional, that got to the College World Series.’
“It’s been a long time. It’s about time for us to get back to that and that’s what we really want to do — we want to create that brand and culture to where we’re not selling the University of Hawaii anymore. We want them to want to come to us. I’m so proud to be working with people like Dave Matlin, our athletic director, and getting a chance to work with Rich Hill, and now getting a chance to work with Dave Nakama, who I’ve known for a number of years. … It’s just an unbelievable opportunity of how baseball, our paths cross. Now I’m working with them on the college side and it’s an unbelievable opportunity and I just can’t wait to get started.”