Mike Martin Breaks All-Time Wins Record

Image credit: Florida State coach Mike Martin (Courtesy of FSU)

College baseball has never had a more consistent winner than Mike Martin. For 39 years, like clockwork, the legendary coach known simply as “11”—his uniform number—has led Florida State to at least 40 wins and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Sixteen times the Seminoles have advanced to the College World Series. Eighteen times they have won the conference title.

Players and assistant coaches have come and gone. Dynasties have risen and fallen. Florida State has moved from the Metro Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Rosenblatt Stadium has given way to TD Ameritrade Ballpark as home of the College World Series. Through it all, Martin has endured. And won.

Florida State and Martin won again Saturday, beating Clemson, 3-2, in 13 innings. The victory was the 1,976th of Martin’s career and with it he became the all-time winningest coach in college baseball history, surpassing Augie Garrido’s record. Martin’s career record now stands at 1,976-708-4 and he achieved the milestone in about 250 fewer games than Garrido coached. No coach in college sports has more wins.

Martin’s focus throughout his chase for the record has been more on the continued success of this year’s Seminoles and their pursuit of securing their place as a regional host in the NCAA Tournament.

“What really means the most to me is for us to continue to play solid baseball and continue to pursue our goal and that’s to get to Omaha,” he said last week.

But for one day at least, talk of hosting, the ACC title race and the larger picture could be put on hold to appreciate Martin’s outsized place in the game and Florida State history.

Martin, 74, played for the Seminoles from 1965-66 and advanced to the College World Series in 1965. He returned to his alma mater in 1975 as an assistant coach and has remained in Tallahassee for the last 44 years.

Martin’s first season as head coach was 1980 and he led the Seminoles to 51 wins and an appearance in Omaha. It was the start of an incredible run. Florida State won at least 50 games in Martin’s first 12 seasons at the helm and made five trips to Omaha.

The Seminoles have never really slowed down. Martin, the 2012 Coach of the Year, has coached three Players of the Year and numerous big leaguers, including J.D. Drew, Stephen Drew, Doug Mientkiewicz and Buster Posey.

UNC Greensboro coach Link Jarrett, who played at Florida State and later served as an assistant coach for the Seminoles, marveled at Martin’s consistency.

“He is a remarkable manager of his talent,” Jarrett said. “Every team’s got a unique personality. The years I’ve played for him and the one year I coached for him, watching him manage the teams and helping those teams find what they need to do, the characteristics to help them win—its remarkable.”

The only area Martin has come up short in during his career is the College World Series. He has twice led the Seminoles to runner-up finishes in Omaha, but they have never won a national title. He is 21-32 in the CWS.

But now Martin is the game’s winningest coach, a record that may never be broken. It took Martin less than two seasons to chase down Garrido, who stepped aside at Texas following the 2016 season. The only other active coach today with more than 1,500 wins, however, is Miami’s Jim Morris, who will retire following this season.

North Carolina’s Mike Fox and Louisiana State’s Paul Mainieri are the only two with even 1,400 wins, but it is unlikely either will coach for the 10 years or more that would be required to make up the more than 500-win gulf between them and Martin. Even Virginia’s Brian O’Connor, who is just 47 years old and ranks third among active coaches in winning percentage (behind Martin and Fox), would need to win 40 games for the next 33 years to reach 1,975 wins.

Morris, who has 1,583 wins of his own and spent two seasons as Martin’s first assistant coach, summed up the accomplishment succinctly.

“It’s a testament of a long time, winning a lot of games,” he said. “You look at the board and it says 40 years of 40 wins, that’s a lot of games.”

Martin’s record-breaking victory came about two months after Garrido’s death. Martin and Garrido crossed paths plenty of times off the field over the years and Martin said his first meeting with Garrido was influential on his career.

In the mid-1970s, Martin, then an assistant coach, met Garrido in Wichita. At the time, Garrido also coached summer ball in the Alaska League and had then-Seminoles catcher Terry Kennedy on his team. Garrido apologized to Martin for what he saw as his inability to get Kennedy, who would go on to be the sixth overall pick in the 1977 draft, to do what he needed to improve.

“Here’s a guy with all the success that he’s had, and he’s apologizing to a guy he just met,” Martin said. “He was never critical of Terry Kennedy, he was critical of himself and his way of doing things and I’ve never forgotten that. I learned something from that.”

Martin and Garrido rarely met on the field, but they did face off in the CWS a few times. Garrido held a 5-1 edge against Martin.

“If it was, so called me against him, as we say in golf, I need to press because I’m really behind,” Martin said. “Augie was a great ambassador for the game of college baseball.”

With Martin’s quest for history now complete, the focus in Tallahassee now turns solely back to this year’s team. The Seminoles (32-14) came into the season ranked No. 3 and began the year 14-0. They have overcome a mid-April skid and have won eight of their last 10 games to get back into the hosting race.

Martin is acutely aware that the record has been a group effort. Now it is up to this year’s group to carry on that legacy.

“I’m so proud to be a Florida State Seminole,” Marin said. “What has been accomplished is Florida State’s accomplishment because I just got an opportunity to work for this great university and I’m surrounded by people who have done so much to keep this program moving upward.”

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