UC Irvine has all but hired Mike Gillespie as its new baseball coach. But, who is Bill Gillespie?
Mike Gillespie retired in 2006 from USC, where he spent 20 seasons as their head coach. He led the Trojans to four College World Series appearances and a national title in 1998. He has coached 28 future major leaguers and is a respected coach in the baseball community.
Gillespie is currently the manager of the New York Yankee’s Class A minor league team, the Staten Island Yankees and lead them to a 47-28 record last season. UCI should be pleased to have a coach of this caliber to accept the position. However, there is one kink.
The university cannot officially hire Gillespie until the board of UC Regents approves the move. Unfortunately, the board does not meet until November.
This is of serious concern because the fall practices for the baseball team begin this week. If Gillespie is not approved, the team will not be able to conduct serious, guided training because there are no coaches.
Former Coach Dave Serrano unexpectedly left to take the Cal State Fullerton job in September. He took along with him all of his assistant coaches. He told Rivals.com that he understood what the Anteater players were feeling: surprised, angered and betrayed.
From what seemed to be a great new beginning, the program’s direction quickly turned south.
However, with the hiring of Bill Gillespie, the morale has gone back up. Though UCI lost its top baseball recruit to UCLA because of the coaching change, Gillespie is still very excited to move 50 miles down the highway.
UCI was tabbed the second-best rising program in college baseball by Rivals.com.
Baseball America reports that CSU Los Angeles coach Pat Shine will join Gillespie’s staff as an assistant coach. Gillespie is 67 years old, and it seems as if Shine will be groomed to be his successor.
Shine was an assistant coach at UCI from 2002-04 and at UCLA in the 05-06 season. He is regarded as one of the top up-and-coming baseball minds, fitting for a rising program.
Pepperdine Assistant Coach Sean Kenny is reported to join the coaching staff as well as a pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
Gillespie has seen more than a few years when it comes to college baseball. His experience should be invaluable for this young squad and coaching staff.
Many concerns have been raised about his age. However, he is not even close to being the oldest coach in college baseball.
Vanderbilt coach Pat Corbin is still going strong at age 71, and his team was one of the strongest in baseball last season. Gillespie’s retirement from USC in 2006 has been speculated to be a forced decision. His son-in-law replaced him. Gillespie clearly did not want to stop coaching baseball, as he joined the minor league system.
‘I am not ready to shut up and watch Oprah, which is what I guess I am supposed to do at my age,’ Gillespie told Topix.net.
That it is why UCI can be assured that he will pour his heart and soul into this program.
UCI felt betrayed by Serrano, Gillespie felt betrayed by USC. Putting UCI and Gillespie together should be the perfect recipe for a program looking for redemption.
Gillespie has an impressive resume of star college players he helped groom. Among them are Mark Prior, Barry Zito, Brett and Aaron Boone, Morgan Ensberg and Geoff Jenkins.
During his tenure at USC, Gilllespie compiled a 763-471-2 record
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