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Former USC player and head coach Mike Gillespie dies at 80

Former USC player and head coach Mike Gillespie, who played on and coached College World Series championship baseball teams with the Trojans, has died following complications from recent lung issues and a stroke. He was 80.

"The Trojan family is very saddened by the loss of coach Gillespie," said USC baseball head coach Jason Gill, who while at Cal State Fullerton and Loyola Marymount played and coached against Gillespie. "Skip was an unbelievable leader of men. He made so many young people better, not just on the baseball field, but in their everyday lives. Skip was as quick to tell you the truth, as he was to make you laugh. On top of all of that, he was a good friend who was always there to help. The impact he had reaches well beyond college baseball and the world is better for it. As we mourn together, the Trojan Family will also celebrate the greatness of Mike Gillespie."

Added Trojan assistant coach Gabe Alvarez, who played for Gillespie at USC in the mid-1990s: "Skip meant the world to so many of us. The lessons he taught us went well beyond the baseball field. I owe so much to him. The opportunity he gave me to come play for him at USC changed the course of my life and I will be forever grateful. I am just heartbroken right now."

Gillespie was an infielder/outfielder on USC's 1961 CWS champs (and the 1960 runner-up squad).

He was Troy's head coach for 20 years (1987-2006), leading the Trojans to five Pac-10 titles, 14 NCAA Regional appearances, four CWS berths (including finalist in 1995) and the 1998 CWS crown. He won 763 games at USC and coached 42 All-Americans, 15 Freshman All-Americans, nine Pac-10 Players/Pitchers of the Year and 30 major leaguers, including MLB All-Stars Mark Prior, Barry Zito, Aaron and Bret Boone, Geoff Jenkins and Morgan Ensberg. A four-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, he was the 2000 USA National Team head coach.

Gillespie is one of only two men to play on and coach a CWS championship baseball team (along with Jerry Kindall).

In 2007, Gillespie managed the Staten Island Yankees of the minor's New York-Penn League

He then was UC Irvine's head coach for 11 years (2008-18), becoming the winningest baseball coach in school history (393 wins). He guided the Anteaters to five NCAA Regionals, including a trip to the CWS in 2014, and at least 30 wins every season.

In his 31-year Division I coaching career, he won 1,156 games and twice was the National Coach of the Year (1998 and 2014). He was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010 and the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

He came to USC after a successful 16-year (1971-86) junior college coaching career at College of the Canyons. He won 420 games there, along with three state titles and 11 conference crowns.

He started his coaching career at the high school level at Palos Verdes (Calif.) High and Rolling Hills (Calif.) High.

He prepped at Hawthorne (Calif.) High before attending USC.

He is survived by his wife Barbara, children Kelly, Mitch, Matt and Tiffany and grandchildren Cade, Cole, Samantha and Cooper, as well as brother Gerry.

USC athletics


July 30, 2020

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