Southern California’s Mike Gillespie, coach and player of College World Series teams, dies

  • In this May 29, 2008, file photo, UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie answer questions during a news conference in Lincoln, Neb. Gillespie, who played on and coached College World Series title teams with Southern California, died Wednesday July, 29, 2020. He was 80. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

LOS ANGELES — Mike Gillespie, who played on and coached College World Series title teams with Southern California, died Wednesday. He was 80.

He died in Irvine following complications from recent lung issues and a stroke, according to USC, which spoke to his son Mitch.


Gillespie was an infielder/outfielder on USC’s 1961 CWS championship team and the 1960 runner-up squad.

He was USC’s coach from 1987-2006, leading the Trojans to five Pac-10 titles, 14 NCAA Regional appearances, four CWS berths and the 1998 CWS crown. He won 763 games at USC and coached 30 future major leaguers, including Aaron and Bret Boone, Geoff Jenkins, Morgan Ensberg, Mark Prior and Barry Zito.

He coached the U.S. national team in 2000.

Gillespie was one of only two men to play on and coach a CWS championship baseball team.

In 2007, Gillespie managed the Staten Island Yankees in the minors’ New York-Penn League.

He served as UC Irvine’s coach from 2008-18, when he became the winningest baseball coach in school history with 393 victories. He led the Anteaters to five NCAA Regional appearances, including a trip to the CWS in 2014, and at least 30 wins every season.

In his 31-year Division I coaching career, Gillespie won 1,156 games and was national coach of the year in 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.

“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,” said USC baseball coach Jason Gill, who played and coached against Gillespie. “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.”


Gillespie began his coaching career at Palos Verdes High and Rolling Hills High in suburban Los Angeles. He coached from 1971-86 at College of the Canyons, a junior college where he won 420 games and three state titles.

He is survived by his wife Barbara, sons Mitch and Matt, daughters Kelly and Tiffany and four grandchildren, along with brother Gerry.

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