Coach Pete Varney, Brandeis University and the postseason are synonymous in New England baseball. Overall in his 31 previous seasons at the Judges’ helm, Varney has led the Judges to the post-season 21 times. During his tenure as the Brandeis head coach, his teams have had an impressive list of accomplishments. Those achievements include an NCAA Division III College World Series appearance, 12 NCAA Regional invitations, two ECAC Division III New England Championships, 10 ECAC tournament selections, six University Athletic Association titles and five Greater Boston League crowns.
Varney has guided the Judges to postseason appearances in 12 of the last 18 years. He has earned great respect on the national level because of his wealth of coaching and playing experience on both the collegiate and professional levels. That respect, coupled with major league playing experience, is given to the man whose name has become synonymous with Brandeis baseball. In addition, he has overseen and helped raise money for the improvement of facilities, including the new dugouts installed in 1999.
The Brandeis baseball program is renowned for the number of former players who have gone into the professional ranks. Twelve former Judges coached by Varney have been signed by major league baseball clubs, including the University's only major-leaguer. Right-handed pitcher Nelson Figueroa became the first former Brandeis player to appear in the major leagues when he started three games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the summer of 2000. After pitching professionally abroad for several years, he returned to the majors in 2010 and in 2011 started the season on the Houston Astros' major league roster. More recently, Bryan Lambert '05 was signed as a free agent and spent two years in the Washington Nationals system.
Varney has run a class program that emphasizes academic success and personal responsibility on and off the field. Thirty-two years ago, Varney took over the reins of a highly successful program from former coach Tom O’Connell, the recently retired coach of baseball at Princeton University and 2003 inductee into the Brandeis Hall of Fame. Varney’s impact was evident immediately as his first team won 23 games, the Greater Boston League championship and qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament.
Recruiting, the lifeblood of any successful collegiate program, has received a great deal of attention from Varney and his assistants. The staff’s efforts in that regard have not gone unnoticed.
Varney’s formula for success on the diamond is based on solid pitching and defense, along with a wide open offensive style of play. He has been named as New England Division III Coach of the Year three times (1984, 87, 99) and was named Greater Boston League Coach of the Year five times. Varney spent three summers (1988-90) as the head baseball coach of the Cotuit Kettleers in the nationally known Cape Cod League.
In high school, Varney was a three sport standout at North Quincy High School and is a member of its Hall of Fame. He was honored this past fall by the Everett High School’s E Club as its top opposing player. After a year of prep school at Deerfield Academy, Varney chose to stay in the Boston area, attending Harvard University.
As a collegian, Varney lettered in both baseball and football. He is best remembered in this area for catching the two point conversion in The Game, a 29-29 tie with Yale University in 1968. Varney's name still peppers the Harvard baseball record book in several categories. He has the third best career batting average .370 (1969-71), second-most home runs in a season (10 in 1970), and most RBI's in a game, (9) vs Washington and Lee in 1970. As a senior, he led Harvard to the 1971 NCAA Division I College World Series where the Crimson finished fifth in the nation. For his efforts that year, he was named first team All-American.
He was drafted seven times by major league teams between the years 1966 and 1971. Three times he was the number one pick overall. Finally, after graduating from Harvard in 1971, Varney signed with the Chicago White Sox, who drafted him with the first choice in the June secondary phase. He went on to play seven years of professional baseball and spent parts of four years in the big leagues with the White Sox and the Atlanta Braves.
When he retired from baseball, he began his coaching career at Narragansett High School in Templeton, Mass. After three years, he was named baseball coach at Brandeis. In addition to his coaching duties, Varney is the coordinator of student-athlete recruitment and is a lecturer in the Physical Education Department.
A former standout for the Gerry McCarthy Club in the Boston Park League, he was inducted into the League's Hall of Fame in November, 1985. Varney serves as the chairman of the New England Division III College Baseball Coaches Poll and a member of the NEIBA Executive Committee.