Buddy Bolding, who shepherded Longwood from Division III to D-II to D-I during the course of his 35-year tenure, will retire after the 2013 season, the school announced Tuesday.
Bolding coached the Lancers to 26 consecutive winning seasons from 1979-2004, a stretch that included six trips to the D-II NCAA tournament and two appearances in the D-II College World Series. The Lancers completed the transition to D-I in 2008 and have posted four straight winning seasons since then. They have found a home in the Big South Conference, after starting as a D-I independent.
Since taking over as head coach in the fall of 1978, Bolding has led Longwood to a 927-516-4 mark. Nine of his players have been drafted since 1988, most notably Michael Tucker, who spent 12 years in the big leagues as an outfielder.
"We now stand at the threshold of a new day for Longwood's rich athletic history and for Longwood's well-conceived ambitions for a bright future," Bolding said in an uncommonly colorful statement. "The prudent time for me to pass the baseball torch along to another is at hand, and I joyously extend that torch forward while it yet burns bright. Countless professional scouts, opponent coaches, and others have over the years said that Buddy Bolding possessed the greatest batting practice arm known to man; and even I might agree with that assertion; but as that arm is now seven-plus million pitches well-worn, it cannot continue to develop great Lancer batsmen for a successful future in the Big South Conference, as will be needed.
"In short, I cannot be Buddy Bolding forever, and my standard, and the pride I have had in throwing that BP, is such that I cannot suffer to offer my hitters less than they deserve. I, therefore, walk away from the ball yard having given my best and having left nothing on the diamond for the crows to pick over. In scriptural terms, I have fought the good fight."
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