Gary Gilmore coaches 900th winby Mike Cawood
There are few people who are more clearly identified with Coastal Carolina University than Gary Gilmore. In his 16th year as the Chanticleers’ head baseball coach, Gilmore recently won his 900th career game, becoming the 22nd active NCAA Division I coach to reach that milestone.
Thanks to another strong postseason which saw Coastal again reach the NCAA Regionals, Gilmore finished 2011 with 907 career wins, 649 of which have come in his 16 years with the Chanticleers. In his six years at USC Aiken, he won 256 games and led the Pacers to two appearances in the NCAA Division III World Series.
Gilmore’s 900th win came on May 17 at Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field with a 12-3 win over UNC Wilmington. Ironically, win number one as Coastal Carolina’s head coach also came versus UNC Wilmington in Gilmore’s first home game, Valentine's Day, 1996.
That memorable night demonstrated why Coach Gilmore has been so successful during his 22 years as a head coach. Injuries to two starters forced Gilmore to shuffle the lineup. To put his team in the best position to win, he talked with his coaches and threw a little-used redshirt freshman in the designated hitter's spot. T.J. Young, like so many before him, responded to the occasion and delivered three hits.
Having players develop during their time at Coastal and then excel when their names are called has been a trademark of Gilmore’s teams. The names are endless, and the results speak for themselves.
Then, after the game – and later during his official ceremony three days later – the other side of coach Gilmore’s persona emerged. While the night was planned to honor him, Gilmore, while appreciative, deflected all praise toward the administration, his mentors, his players and, most of all, his coaches.
“I know my name has the 900 wins next to it, but there is no way – and I mean no way – I could get to this point without all these people,” Gilmore said of those on the field with him during his ceremony.
The 2011 season was not the record-setter that 2010 was, but Gilmore again led the Chanticleers to 40 wins and postseason play.
Gilmore's program reached the 30-win total for the 14th consecutive season, and the 40-win plateau for the 11th time in the last 13 years. The Chanticleers were among the nation’s top 30 in various polls throughout the season. And, perhaps most importantly, Coastal Carolina not only won its fifth-straight Big South regular season title, but became the first school in league history to win five straight Big South Conference Tournament Championships.
With that, Coastal earned a berth to the NCAA Championships for the fifth straight year and the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
In addition to team success, Tommy La Stella was named Big South Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player. Matt Rein was named Big South Pitcher of the Year, while Anthony Meo was a three-time Big South Pitcher of the Week and is being projected to be the first player in Big South history to be a first-round draft pick in the June 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.