Mike Gillespie Retires As USC Baseball Head Coach
June 2, 2006
Mike Gillespie, who guided the USC baseball team to the 1998 College World Series championship and 15 NCAA Regional appearances in his 20 years as the Trojans' head coach, announced his retirement today (June 2).
Former major league catcher Chad Kreuter, Gillespie's son-in-law and currently the manager of the Colorado Rockies' single-A affiliate Modesto Nuts, will replace him as head coach. He was USC's director of baseball operations in 2005.
Kreuter becomes just the fourth Trojan baseball head coach in the last 77 years.
"I've greatly enjoyed my experience at USC, dating all the way back to my time as a student and player here," said Gillespie. "What I've enjoyed most, and what I'll miss most, are the relationships with the many players, colleagues and friends of USC baseball.
"This is a marvelous opportunity for Chad. I'm delighted to know that this stays in the family. USC baseball is in great hands and we can look forward to a great future."
Said Kreuter: "I'm excited to have this opportunity to coach a program with the best history in all of college baseball. It's an honor to take over after two of the game's greatest coaches sat in this seat. I'm looking forward to continuing USC's tradition of excellence.
"Every day I played in the big leagues, I was managing games in my head as a catcher. And this year, the Rockies gave me the opportunity over many other qualified candidates to hone those managing skills at Modesto. That could have turned into a promising career at the major league level, but I couldn't turn down this opportunity with USC."
Since taking over for the legendary Rod Dedeaux in 1987, Gillespie posted a 763-471-2 (.618) record at USC. His teams won five Pac-10 titles and advanced to the College World Series four times (including being runner-up in 1995 in addition to the 1998 championship season). He was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year four times and was the National Coach of the Year in 1998. He produced 44 All-Americans, 16 Freshmen All-Americans, 67 All-Pac-10 first teamers (including 10 league Players/Pitchers of the Year), 94 draft picks and 25 major leaguers (including 11 All-Stars and a Cy Young Award winner). He was the head coach of the 2000 USA National team.
Gillespie, 66, came to USC after 16 years (1971-86) at College of the Canyons in Valencia, Calif., where he had a 418-165 (.717) record while winning three state titles and 11 conference crowns. He previously coached at the high school level at Palos Verdes (Calif.) High and Rolling Hills (Calif.) High.
After prepping at Hawthorne (Calif.) High, Gillespie lettered three seasons (1960-62) as an infielder/outfielder at USC under Dedeaux. He was a member of Troy's 1961 national championship squad and the 1960 team that finished as NCAA runner-up.
"Mike has given USC 20 wonderful years of exciting, successful baseball," said USC senior associate athletic director Don Winston. "Many of his teams, including his 1998 national championship team, will go down in the Trojan history books. He followed a legend, which isn't an easy thing to do, and he became a legend in his own right. He recruited well, he was a great teacher and he turned out many future major leaguers. He'll be sorely missed by the Trojan Family."
Kreuter, 41, spent 16 seasons (1988-2003) in the major leagues with the Texas Rangers (1988-91, 2003), Detroit Tigers (1992-94), Seattle Mariners (1995), Chicago White Sox (1996-98), Anaheim Angels (1997-98), Kansas City Royals (1999) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2000-02). In 944 major league games, he hit .237 with 54 home runs, 274 RBI and a .990 fielding percentage. In his debut in 1988, he tied a major league record by getting two hits in the same inning at Oakland. In 1989 with Texas, he caught Nolan Ryan's 5,000th career strikeout.
He played at Pepperdine for three seasons (1983-85). While there, he was on a USA team that participated in an international tournament in Cuba in 1984. He was the 109th overall pick (fifth round) in the 1985 draft.
He prepped at Redwood High in Larkspur (Calif.).
Born Aug. 26, 1964, Kreuter is married to Gillespie's daughter, Kelly, and they have two sons, Cade, 15, and Cole, 10.
The Nuts currently own a 28-25 record for second place in the California League's North Division.
"We're very fortunate to have Chad take over for Mike," said Winston. "He has been on the fast track, as evidenced by the Rockies making him a manager of one of their teams in his first year of coaching. His major league experience will be a tremendous asset for our program, as will his noted ability of handling pitchers and catchers, which is so vital to today's collegiate programs. We're confident his teams will continue USC's tradition of success."
In its history, USC has won an unprecedented 12 College World Series championships and 38 conference titles while producing 43 All-American first teamers and 93 major leaguers.