Mike Tresemer, the Ironman of UCSB baseball, passed away on Monday, according to former Gaucho coach Al Ferrer.
The 6-foot-5 righthander, who pitched UCSB to the PCAA championship and a No. 5 national ranking in 1986, was 57.
“We’ve lost our ace,” said Vince Teixeira, the star third baseman of the Gauchos’ 1986 team.
“His nickname was Tree, for obvious reasons,” Ferrer said. “He was the redwood — the core and foundation — of those dominant teams.”
Tresemer also pitched five seasons in the Kansas City Royals farm system, advancing as far as Triple-A Omaha, before embarking on a 20-year career as a senior probation officer for Santa Clara County. He had recently retired and moved to St. George, Utah.
He went 18-6 during three seasons at UCSB, making the All-PCAA first team in 1986 and receiving second-team honors in 1985. He also made the NCAA All-District team in 1986. He posted a career earned run average of 3.25 and struck out 160 batters in 111 1/3 innings.
“His role with us was as an intimidator,” Ferrer said. “He could give you that surly look and seem like a hard ass, but he actually had a real dry sense of humor. We were always ragging each other — I don’t think we ever had a straight line between us, and I loved it.”
When several of the Gauchos approached Ferrer about changing a rule that prohibited facial hair, the UCSB coach turned to Tresemer and said, “OK, but you’ve got no choice — you’ve GOT to grow a Fu Manchu … If we’re going to break the rules, I want you wearing one of those up on the mound.”
Tresemer obeyed his coach and grew the moustache.
During the 1985 season, Ferrer often used Tresemer as a closer at the start of a weekend series and then started him in the Sunday game. At one point, he’d pitched 32 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. He finished that season with a record of 9-5 and ERA of 2.91 with 28 appearances and five starts.
“I’d probably get fired if I tried that today, but the game was different then,” Ferrer said. “There were multiple weekends when he’d get both a save and a win.”
Tresemer picked up two wins and a save during one conference weekend series against the University of Pacific.
One of Tresemer’s best memories of that season came when he pitched a 2-1 win over defending NCAA champion Cal State Fullerton “after getting up from my sickbed only minutes before the game.”
His eight complete games in 1986 — which included a one-hit shutout — rank second in the UCSB record books for a single season. His 13 career complete games rank fourth all-time.
Tresemer’s win-loss record of 9-1 during UCSB’s NCAA Regional season of 1986 computes into the third-best winning percentage (.900) for a single season. His career winning percentage (.750) is tied for third in the Gaucho record books.
“He was a big-game pitcher who never backed down,” said Erik Johnson, UCSB’s all-league shortstop of 1986 who wound up playing parts of two seasons with the San Francisco Giants. “He was a true warrior.
“Going to miss the Tre, he was the heart and soul of our team. This is a big loss to all of us who played and knew Mike.”
The Royals selected Tresemer in the 10th round of Major League Baseball’s 1986 Amateur Draft. He finished his minor-league career with a record of 24-22 and an ERA of 4.46. He struck out 251 batters in 363 innings.
Tresemer remained in baseball as a pitching coach at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View and he also coached youth teams.
“Tree was a brilliant baseball man who was respected, admired and loved by all,” said Butch Seuberth, a key relief pitcher on UCSB’s 1986 team.
Tresemer’s son, Zach, was a junior relief pitcher for UC San Diego this spring when the baseball season was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Tresemer is also survived by his wife, Diana, and daughter, Shelby.
“My last meeting with Tree was very memorable,” Ferrer said. “His son was on a recruiting visit to UCSB and he found me in office — I hadn’t seen him in 20-some years. His wife and daughter were also with him.
“His first line to me was a rag, and I gave it right back to him. Then we talked for more than an hour — and he only wanted to talk about two things: about the guys who’d been his teammates, and about his family.”
Johnson called him “The gentle giant with a big heart.”
“I spent a lot of time with Tre on and off the field,” he said. “He was such a great man who cared about people.
“Though he seemed quiet, he really wasn’t. He was conscientious about his family and friends. Very funny and had a great sense of humor.”
Seuberth posted a Facebook farewell to his former teammate which said, “Where you’re going the air is thin, so keep the ball down, big fella.”