UNM baseball coach Birmingham provides lessons, entertainment online - Albuquerque Journal

UNM baseball coach Birmingham provides lessons, entertainment online

UNM baseball coach Ray Birmingham gets ejected from a game. (Courtesy of Ray Birmingham)

Ray Birmingham has rarely been at a loss for words but a recent homework assignment nearly accomplished the feat.

With University of New Mexico sports shut down by coronavirus restrictions, keeping the Lobo brand visible and fans engaged have become an athletics department priority. UNM’s veteran baseball coach was asked to do his part.

At first, the directive came across like a line from the “Mission Impossible” franchise, Birmingham said.

Deputy Athletic Director David Williams: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to post daily baseball hitting lessons over social media platforms.”

Birmingham: “Come again?”

It wasn’t exactly like instructing college hitters from behind the batting cage, something the 64-year-old Birmingham has been doing since the “Mission Impossible” TV series was still on the air in the 1970s. This assignment required a 2020s mindset.

“I didn’t want to do it at first,” Birmingham admitted. “Then I got to thinking that pictures speak 1,000 words. I started looking up baseball pictures and just came up with lessons to go with them.”

Brennan Birmingham (Rays grandson) has been a regular in his social media lesson series. This photo was posted with: Game face. It scares the pitchers. (Courtesy of Ray Birmingham)

Lesson No. 1 came on March 19 and featured Birmingham’s young grandson, Brennan, perched on a training potty and holding a baseball bat. The text: “Become one with your bat. Take it everywhere. Make it an extension of you.”

Much to Birmingham’s surprise, the series was an instant success, racking up hits, shares and likes on Twitter and Facebook. The photogenic Brennan, who is now approaching his sixth birthday, is a frequent cast member. The fact that Brennan has been photographed in a slew of baseball-related poses over the years hasn’t hurt.

But Birmingham’s lessons have expanded well beyond kid shots and even hitting advice. He’s posted photos of major leaguers, college players, shot from iconic baseball movies like “Major League” and “Bull Durham,” and even one of a sad-looking bulldog advertised as belonging to Hall of Fame pitcher and UNLV pitching coach Greg Maddux.

“Poor dog never got walked,” said the post, which also proclaims the virtues of pitching location over velocity.

Birmingham rarely uses photos of himself but an exception was his most popular lesson to date. The picture shows an umpire ejecting Birmingham from a game early in his UNM coaching career. The text: “Never talk negatively about a man’s ‘magnifying thick glasses.’ It will hurt his feelings and he will ask you to leave.”


As of last week, Birmingham’s Lesson 25 had more than 12,600 engagements and almost 92,000 impressions on Twitter alone. Engagements are “times people interacted with” a tweet (likes, retweets, etc.), while impressions are times people saw it.

No one was more surprised than Birmingham, who has since had several other posts blow up.

“I was shocked,” he said of the response. “I thought some people around town might get a kick out of it but I’ve gotten responses from all over the country. I forgot to post one day and people were all over me. ‘Where’s our lesson?'”

Some of Birmingham’s lessons are considerably more serious than others, and he’s never quite sure which ones will strike a chord with viewers. A recent photo breaking down the mechanics of bunting and advising hitters to “be GREAT” at it ranks among his most popular.

Regardless, Birmingham said he now tries to stay at least a day ahead with his lesson plans and he gives them a fair amount of thought.

As far as Williams is concerned, Birmingham’s posts are a mission accomplished — even if they’re not what he initially had in mind.

Williams and UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez approached coaches and other members of the school’s athletic department staff with an initiative when COVID-19 restrictions put live sports on the shelf. Step one was to stay relevant with content on social media and UNM’s athletic website during the shutdown.

“We have the most social media followers in the Mountain West right now,” Williams said. “We’re proud of what our staff has done during the shutdown. They’ve really shown a lot of creativity.”

Williams credited several individual UNM programs, including women’s soccer and football, for their social media offerings. He laughed when asked about Birmingham’s lessons.

“I suggested to Ray that he post some hitting lessons, things kids can do at home,” Williams said. “He went in a completely different direction and it’s taken off. The only credit I can take is for asking him to do it. Other than that, it’s a Ray Birmingham production.”

The series can be viewed by pulling up his Twitter account, @BirminghamRay.

Home » Sports » College » Baseball » UNM baseball coach Birmingham provides lessons, entertainment online


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
New Mexico State alum Bradish shuts down Astros
Baseball
Former New Mexico State Aggie Kyle ... Former New Mexico State Aggie Kyle Bradish pitched a gem, throwing eight strong innings before two relievers completed the four-hitter to lead the Baltimore ...
2
Connie Mack World Series final to air nationally Saturday
Baseball
CBS Sports Network is scheduled to ... CBS Sports Network is scheduled to air the championship game of the Connie Mack World Series Saturday. Thanks to a dramatic finish Friday night, ...
3
St. Pius alum Walker transferring to New Mexico State ...
Baseball
New Mexico State baseball on Wednesday ... New Mexico State baseball on Wednesday announced the addition of two transfer pitchers, including St. Pius alumnus Hayden Walker from Pepperdine. Will Sierra also ...
4
At its Grassroots, baseball is just fun
ABQnews Seeker
World-renowned photographer shares her love of ... World-renowned photographer shares her love of baseball through images captured along historic Route 66, including New Mexico.
5
College baseball: Vandy routs Aggies, ends their season
Baseball
Vanderbilt beat New Mexico State 21-1 ... Vanderbilt beat New Mexico State 21-1 on Saturday in an NCAA regional, ending the Aggies baseball season with 24-34 record.
6
College baseball: Aggies' upset bid falls short
Baseball
The New Mexico State Aggies' bid ... The New Mexico State Aggies' bid for a stunning college baseball upset Friday night ended in anticlimactic fashion with a 10th-inning, bases-loaded walk, giving ...
7
Aggies are set to open baseball regional
Baseball
To face host Oregon State Friday ... To face host Oregon State Friday in Corvallis
8
Aggies' improbable run to NCAA baseball berth takes them ...
Baseball
It doesn't matter that New Mexico ... It doesn't matter that New Mexico State finished with a losing record. Or, to bring it home, that th ...
9
Aggies go from worst seed to WAC championship baseball ...
Baseball
New Mexico State's baseball team, which ... New Mexico State's baseball team, which has gotten hot in timely fashion, is one win away from an NCAA regionals berth. The Aggies (23-32) ...