The Daily Nole

Sunday Centerpiece: One Last Run

Jeremy Esbrandt/D'Vel Photography/FSU athletics

The legendary career of Florida State head baseball coach Mike Martin could come to an end as early as Monday, marking the conclusion of an era that may be unparalleled in college baseball for the rest of time.

Knocking on the Super Regional doorstep, Martin will eventually complete his 40th and final season as head coach of the Seminoles. Over that span, Martin has won more games than any college baseball coach ever with 2,025 currently to go with 19 conference tournament championships, 13 conference Coach of the Year Awards and 16 appearances in the College World Series.

Bo O’Dell pitched for the Seminoles from 2007-09. O’Dell said one of his more fond memories of Martin was when the Seminoles won the final two games of the 2008 Tallahassee Super Regional to advance to Omaha.

“After we won the Super Regional in ’08 against Wichita State, we all go back in the locker room and we are celebrating and in walks ’11’, calm as can be,” O’Dell said in an email. “He comes up to a table and we are all on edge because none of us have ever seen him with that calm, stoic expressionless face on before. And then it happened; he slams the table and yells louder than I have heard him before, ‘we’re going back’. Every time I see a video of it, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. Awesome stuff.”

Martin’s impact however, goes well beyond wins and losses. O’Dell is now the head baseball coach at St. Cloud High School in Central Florida and said some of Martin’s coaching continues to guide him.

“One of the traits that I loved about 11 was how he always tried to remain even tempered,” O’Dell said. “During the season, things went wrong or things went right and he didn’t really show much emotion. It wasn’t because he didn’t have the emotions, he just wanted everyone around to enjoy the moment. He didn’t want the attention or the praise when something went right, he wanted the players to enjoy it. I try to do the same while I’m coaching my guys and let them just enjoy the game — good or bad. It doesn’t always work, because we all like to compete, but I do my best.”

Tyler Everett, a pitcher from 2008-11 offered similar sentiments.

“The character he instilled in us with doing our due diligence, following through with what we start — I think that’s what stands out,” Everett said.

A native of Charlotte, FSU baseball is what Martin has always known. Martin played the outfield for the Seminoles in 1965 and 1966. He would go on to become the program’s first full-time assistant in 1975 where he would spend five years under Woody Woodward and Dick Howser before becoming head man in 1980.

“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about 11 is winning,” O’Dell said. “The amount of wins that man has is because he put us in the situation to win year-in and year-out. It has been a really unfortunate road that just hasn’t ended with him with the big ring at the end of the season. Off the field, he was a easy guy to go talk to and had expectations of you that you knew you had to meet. I treat my own players that way now and the main reason I do is because of him.”

Everett’s knowledge of Martin predates his playing days at Florida State. Everett said Martin was his father’s middle school basketball coach.

“He’s a really big family man,” Everett said. “He and Carol are great family people and that was really passed on to his players.”

For all of his accomplishments, the knock on Martin has been the absence of a national championship. Both O’Dell and Everett played on FSU’s 2008 team that reached Omaha, but suffered losses to Stanford and Miami. Everett was also on the 2010 team that reached the College World Series, but lost twice to TCU.

“Yeah, it’s a little unfair,” Everett said. “Look at any sport and there are greats who never won a championship. There were some really good NBA duos that never won titles.”

In March, Mike Martin became the first college baseball coach to reach 2,000 wins. (Larry Novey/FSU athletics)

The Seminoles reached the College World Series final in 1986 and 1999, but were defeated in both cases. In 1986, it was Arizona who claimed college baseball’s ultimate prize with a 10-2 win over the Seminoles and in 1999, it was rival Miami leaving with a 6-5 victory.

“That ’08 team did everything right pretty much all year, except once we got to Omaha,” O’Dell said. “That was a tough time out there and we just didn’t perform like we did all year. We had a few uncharacteristic performances on defense and on the mound, which hurt a little bit. We battled and made games out of them all, but we as a team, just didn’t perform. At that stage and level of play, if one or two things go wrong, it is amplified 10-fold, compared to a game in the regular season. You can’t afford to make the mistakes while you are out there, because you are playing the best teams in the country.”

When history looks back on the career of Martin, O’Dell said the wins will stand high above the fact that a national championship hasn’t been in the cards.

“It is very unfortunate that 11 has that cloud over his head because he is a constant winner during the season; it just never worked out for him or us once we got out to Omaha,” Odell said. “Critics are going to say what they want, but he is still the winningest coach all-time and I think that will be his legacy.”

Both Everett and O’Dell said moving forward, it will be a bit different seeing an FSU dugout not occupied by the man affectionately known as “11”.

“Whether it’s (Mike Martin Jr.) or someone else, it’s going to be a little different,” Everett said. “It’ll probably set in once that first mound visit happens. I remember (with Martin) coming out to the mound, you knew you’d either get celebrated or chewed out.”

O’Dell compared Martin’s retirement to another FSU coaching legend, who left the game after 34 seasons in 2009.

“Not seeing 11 on the field with the Noles is going to be a lot like when Bobby Bowden was finally done with football,” he said. “There is going to be hole there that may never really get filled, but there will be plenty of great coaches that come through who are going to try. I just hope they find someone who is going to keep the winning tradition alive and maybe bring the big ‘W’ home for the Noles.”

Mike Martin coaches his final regular season game at Dick Howser Stadium on May 12. (Haylee Blitch/FSU athletics)

As the sun begins to set on an accomplished career, fans, players, former players and of course, Martin, are hoping to see the era extended for as long as possible. FSU will try to advance to the Super Regionals on Sunday night as it faces either Georgia or Florida Atlantic — two teams it has already defeated in Athens.

“I wish the team all the luck,” Everett said. “We’re certainly all going to be pulling for them.”

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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