If you can't make it on Broadway, then it's back to Fullerton
by Bob Timmermann
Jill Painter of the Daily News profiles Cal State Fullerton volunteer assistant coach, Bill Kernen, who left his job as the head coach of Cal State Northridge's baseball team in 1995 after he feared the program would be cut and instead headed to New York to try to make it as a playwright.
Kernen led the Matadors to within three outs of a berth in the College World Series before host Fresno State rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth in an elimination game to sew up a spot in Omaha.
With no previous experience as a playwright, he moved to New York with $15,000 and studied dramatic writing at Columbia University for two years.
He worked at a real-estate firm to pay his bills, but still found time to write and produce two full-length plays by 1997. In all, he wrote seven plays that were performed at small theaters in New York. He directed three of them.
"I've always had a strong interest in other things, the arts in particular," Kernan said. "So it was difficult from the standpoint that I didn't know how I was going to live, because I didn't have a job or know anybody. But it wasn't difficult leaving baseball."
Kernen's writing has been put on hold while he and his wife, Betty, settle in their new surroundings, but he remains connected to the industry. His 1998 play "Galleria degli Angeli," the one set in an Italian art gallery and loosely based on one of his own vacations to Italy, is in early stages of film production, as is his 1997 script, "And other Fairytales."
[Fullerton coach George] Horton, who knew Kernen as a rival coach, is enjoying broadening his own horizons with an assistant "unlike the rest of us, watches something other than ESPN and reads something other than the sports page."
Kernen was an intense coach at CSUN. This was from the Los Angeles Times on March 31, 1994 by Steve Elling:
The Cal State Northridge players wore black, though certainly not by choice. The mood was funereal.
Players elected to fly the American flag at half-staff over the clubhouse at Matador Field. Fitting, in light of the circumstances.
"It was definitely appropriate," Northridge Coach Bill Kernen said. "Because they're dead."
Incensed by what he called the team's habitual inability to play with heart, Kernen threw down the gauntlet before Wednesday's 2-1 nonconference loss to Cal Lutheran and threatened to finish the season with reserves unless a sweeping change of attitude takes place.
Kernen barred players from the clubhouse and forbade them from wearing team jerseys. Many players were forced to wear black T-shirts or undershirts devoid of names or numerals, a violation of an NCAA rule regarding game uniforms.
Kernen donned a different team cap out of disgust, just so he wasn't wearing the same hat as his troops. He also dumped the players' gear onto the clubhouse floor.
In other articles by actors who appeared in Kernen's play, his work was described as "a bit dark."