Legendary college baseball coach Mike Gillespie, who turned multiple California schools into baseball powerhouses during his five decades of coaching, has passed away. He was 80 years old.
Gillespie won the College World Series as both a player and a coach for the USC Trojans. He played infield and outfield for the Trojans in the 1960s, winning the College World Series in 1961.
In 1971, Gillespie got his first head coaching job with California’s College of the Canyons in the NJCAA. He went 420–167 in 16 seasons before returning to his alma mater in 1987.
Taking over for school legend Rod Dedeaux, Gillespie consistently had the Trojans in the CWS in the late-1980s and early-1990s. But his team really became a national powerhouse in the mid-1990s.
Terribly saddened by passing of Mike Gillespie, coach of 1998 CWS champion USC Trojans. Produced dozens of major leaguers from College of Canyons, USC and UC Irvine, and made people around him better people. RIP No. 19 ✌️
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) July 29, 2020
The Trojans won back-to-back Pac-10 titles in 1995 and 1996, and made the CWS in 1995. They fell to Cal State Fullerton that year, but were soon back in the title picture.
In 1998, Gillespie’s 12th year at the helm, the Trojans made it back to the College World Series and finished the job against rival Arizona State to win their 12th national title.
The Trojans made it to two more College World Series competitions, but fell short of adding any more national titles.
In his 20 years at USC, Gillespie had just two losing seasons.
After resigning in 2006, he had a brief stint with the Staten Island Yankees before returning to college baseball as head coach of the UC Irvine Anteaters in 2008. He led the Anteaters to the postseason five times and to the College World Series in 2014.
Our hearts go out to Coach Gillespie’s family and loved ones.