2018 WCC HOH Inductee: Randy Wolf, Pepperdine
WCC Columnist John Crumpacker profiles Pepperdine inductee Randy Wolf
By John Crumpacker, #WCChoops Columnist
Leading up to the 2018 West Coast Conference Hall of Honor induction ceremony Saturday, March 3 at the Orleans Casino Resort, WCC Columnist John Crumpacker is profiling each inductee. Leading off is longtime Major Leaguer Randy Wolf of Pepperdine Baseball.
Randy Wolf would like people to know that he is not a groupie, never mind the autographed guitars he has from noted rock practitioners Slash and Richie Sambora.
During his 17-year career in Major League Baseball as a lefthanded pitcher, the former Pepperdine ace made an offer on a home in the Hollywood Hills. Turns out the owner was none other than Slash, of Guns ‘N Roses fame. At the same time, Wolf put his home in Calabasas, north of Los Angeles, on the market. The winning bid was from Sambora, the Bon Jovi guitarist.
“I was surrounded by guitarists,’’ Wolf said. “I got some cool memorabilia. I got signed guitars from both of them. It makes me look like a groupie. It was a really strange coincidence. I was looking in the area. I found a house I liked. I didn’t know the house belonged to Slash.’’
It was Wolf’s three-year career at Pepperdine from 1995-97, during which he posted a record of 25-8 with a 1.97 ERA and 328 strikeouts, that led the school to select him as its nomination to the West Coast Conference Hall of Honor class for 2018. Wolf and nine others from around the conference will be honored on March 3 at the Orleans in Las Vegas during the WCC basketball tournament.
“I was blown away,’’ the 41-year-old Wolf said. “I thought it was really cool. I looked it up on YouTube. They had some previous ceremonies. They do a great job with it.’’
Growing up in Southern California, Wolf had a strong connection with Pepperdine even before he became a student-athlete in 1995.
“As a kid, I enjoyed going to Pepperdine baseball games,’’ he said. “That was the closest Division I team. I fell in love with it.’’
In the recruiting process, he set up five visits to other schools but when Pepperdine came through with a full scholarship offer, Wolf was a Wave. He was recruited by a head coach, Andy Lopez, who moved on to Florida before Wolf’s freshman year. However, it was the one season he spent working under Pepperdine pitching coach Geoff Zahn that Wolf credits for his success on the college level, which in turn led to the Philadelphia Phillies drafting him on the second round in 1997.
“I’m not sure if I would have had the same results I did if not for Geoff Zahn,’’ he said. “When I came to Pepperdine, I viewed myself as an outfielder throwing from the pitching mound. In high school I had success, but I didn’t know what I was doing. He (Zahn) taught me a lot about the mechanics of pitching, to throw for an area, all the things I didn’t think about much. It stuck with me. Geoff and I are still in contact.’’
When he signed with the Phillies in ’97 and made his Major League debut two years later, Wolf began what would be a long career as a journeyman, wearing the uniforms of the Phillies (1999-06), Dodgers (’07), Padres (’08), Dodgers again (’09), Brewers (2010-12), Orioles (’12), Marlins (’14) and finally the Tigers (’15), his last stop.
“I had success. I had bad years,’’ said Wolf, who finished with a won-lost record of 133-125 with a 4.24 ERA and 1,814 strikeouts. “I had plenty of injuries. I got fired. I went through the gamut of experience. I am thankful for all of that. I’m glad I was able to walk away with no regrets. It was great. I enjoyed every bit of it. I look back on my career and I went through everything a player could go through except getting to the World Series.’’
These days, Wolf divides his time between his ex-Slash home in Hollywood and his wife Lindsey’s native Texas. During his career in the Major Leagues, he spent some of his offseason time on charitable endeavors that included the Philadelphia Futures mentor program, Children’s Miracle Network, the ALS Association and Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.
“I don’t have a job,’’ Wolf said. “I’m not working but I’m enjoying my time off. There was so much stuff I put off over the years. I’m able to do a lot of stuff around the house that I didn’t do for nine, 10 years. I learned to snowboard at 40. We’re expecting our first child.’’
Wolf will have a very small guest list at the Hall of Honor ceremony on March 3 – his wife Lindsey. As a student-athlete, he spent three years at Pepperdine but left school before his senior season when the Phillies tabbed him on the second round.
“I figured that was my best opportunity to start my career,’’ he said.
It was a career that led him from high school to Malibu to various stops in the Major Leagues and now the WCC Hall of Honor.
As Wolf said, “I enjoyed every bit of it.’’
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards. Crumpacker has been covering #WCChoops since the 2014-15 season.