20-Year USC Baseball Coach Mike Gillespie Dies

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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Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
July 30, 2020 5:50 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Talk is Notre Dame will try to pick up games with the ACC but BYU is really out in the cold, maybe trying to get games with the Mountain West. Then there is Army and four other independents.

Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
July 30, 2020 12:58 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Looks like more of an indictment of the LA Times than the Pac 12. I’m sure media outlets are pressured all the time to give positive coverage, the ethical, credible ones don’t cave. Every sports page seems to have its “Homers”, you wonder what perks they get?

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
July 30, 2020 8:15 am

Mike was great and will be missed. His downfall IMO, other than having Mike Garrett as a boss, was that he became so focused on recruiting the very top high school players in the country (who would typically verbal to SC) — but unfortunately they would wait for the inevitable professional contract offer. (Sound familiar Pat Ruel?)

Meanwhile, over at Cal State Fullerton, the second/third level players would sign with the Titans. If Mike would have recruited with that strategy, he would have created a dynasty IMHO. 

Noble Member
July 30, 2020 6:22 am

RIP Coach. In Mike Gillespie and Rod Dedeaux, USC had two of the best college baseball coaches of all time. Both were class acts and developed great players.

Noble Member
July 30, 2020 6:12 am

I lived in Newhall in the 80’s, when Gillespie was the head coach at COC, winning state titles. His house was literally across the street from ours. He has a great guy, and an extremely successful coach. His last few years at SC weren’t pretty, and he was probably burned out and in need of a change. However, his overall legacy was that of success, and rebuilding the baseball program to its rightful place as an elite program. With Folt at the helm, I have doubts we will ever see days like that again.
RIP Coach

Diamond Member
July 30, 2020 4:30 am

Garrett messed up when he let Gillespie go.