For the second time this offseason, a Division I baseball coach has died. Virginia Commonwealth announced that coach Paul Keyes, 50, lost his battle with cancer Saturday.
Keyes was diagnosed in April with stage 4 melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. He had worked at VCU since 1985 as an assistant and was head coach for the last 18 seasons, compiling a 603-428-1 record (.585 winning percentage). The Rams had 12 straight winning seasons from 1996-2007, including 46 victories in 1998 (with a team led by Brandon Inge) and 2003 (led by future big league pitchers Sean Marshall and Cla Meredith as well as 2004 first-rounder Justin Orenduff). Virginia Commonwealth made eight regional trips and won five Colonial Athletic Association titles in his tenure.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a tremendous human being," VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin said in a statement. "Paul was an outstanding baseball coach and an even better husband, father, friend and man . . . Our baseball program is in very capable hands with (interim head) coach Shawn Stiffler and the rest of the staff. We will move forward the way Coach Keyes would want and contend for conference championships. His impact will continue to be felt on the VCU baseball program for years to come."
Earlier this offseason, Harvard lost its head coach when Joe Walsh died at age 58, of a heart attack. Harvard has since hired former Trinity (Conn.) coach Bill Decker to replace Walsh.