Legendary college baseball coach Mike Gillespie, who helped dozens reach MLB, dies at age 80

Mark Townsend
·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·3-min read
Legendary college baseball coach Mike Gillespie
Former USC and UC Irvine baseball coach Mike Gillespie passed away at 80. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Legendary college baseball coach Mike Gillespie died Wednesday, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reported. He was 80.

Gillespie most recently served as the head coach at UC Irvine, leading the Anteaters to their second College World Series appearance in 2014 and a 393–249 overall record over 11 seasons. He retired after the 2018 season.

He’s best known for his 20-year stint at USC, where he led the Trojans to a 763–471–2 mark and a College World Series Championship in 1998. As a player, Gillespie helped USC win the 1961 College World Series.

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Gillespie resigned as USC coach following the 2006 season and was directly succeeded by former MLB catcher Chad Kreuter, who is also married to Gillespie's daughter Kelly. Kreuter coached the team until 2010.

MLB influence

Along the way, Gillespie’s programs produced dozens of major league players.

At one point during the 2005 season, 13 players coached by Gillespie at USC were on major league rosters. Six of them — Mark Prior, Barry Zito, Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Geoff Jenkins and Morgan Ensberg — were All-Stars during their careers.

Of course, Aaron Boone now serves as manager of the New York Yankees.

Some of Gilliespie’s former players, colleagues and writers who covered his career were quick to honor the beloved skipper.

Gillespie’s 1,156 wins as a NCAA Division I coach ranks 49th all-time. Previous to his USC run, Gillespie won 418 games at College of the Canyons.

In 2010, Gillespie was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

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