80-year old Mike Gillespie, whose teams won more than 1,500 games over a 47-year career coaching college baseball, died today at his home in Irvine. The cause of death was not announced, but he had been in hospice care.
He’s best known for his 20-year stint at USC, where he led the Trojans to a 763–471–2 mark and a 1998 College World Series Championship. As a left fielder, Gillespie also helped USC win the 1961 College World Series when Trojan legend Rod Dedeaux ruled the college baseball world, winning 11 national titles from ’48 to ’78 and an incredible five in a row from ’70-’74.
Gillespie was forced to resign as USC’s coach by Trojan AD Mike Garrett following a 25-33 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, but was frankly a disaster, going only 111-117 in four seasons at USC.
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.
The storied USC baseball program has never been the same since Gillespie left in 2006. After USC, Gillespie had a 393–249 11 season record at UCI, from where he retired after the 2018 season.
Gillespie’s 1,156 wins as a NCAA Div 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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