The Daily Nole

Sunday Centerpiece: Looking Back on Every FSU Baseball Coach’s First Season

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The Mike Martin Jr. era is off to a promising start.

Since dropping the season opener to Niagra, Florida State has managed to win five straight games. Martin was tabbed as the new head man prior to the season to replace his father and college baseball’s all-time wins leader, Mike Martin Sr.

The older Martin was the head man of the program for four decades. A coaching change at FSU was something unseen until recently for a large percentage of those reading this right now.

While Martin managed to last for more than half the program’s history, his son became the ninth head coach at FSU. Here’s a look back on how the previous eight fared in their first seasons:

Charlie Armstrong (1948)

Record: 9-8
National Ranking: None
Key Players: Jack Wilson, C; Dago Murphy, OF; John Witt, P
Overview: Florida State’s inaugural season lasted just 17 games and less than two months, but it did end on a high note. After a 4-6 start, the Seminoles won five of their final seven games.

Ralph Matherly (1952)

Record: 17-4
National Ranking: None
Key Players: Bob Trowbridge, IF; Les Mullen, OF; Ed Sessions, P
Overview: Florida State still wasn’t a blip on the national radar, but in Ralph Matherly’s first season, the Seminoles managed to win a then program record 17 games. In three seasons as head coach, Matherly never quite had the same success. FSU scored signature victories that season over the likes of Georgia and Miami.

Danny Litwhiler (1955)

Record: 17-6
National Ranking: None
Key Players: Fred Twomey, 1B; John Ash, P; Tom Garcia, P
Overview: Danny Litwhiler’s first season started out with six straight wins, including over Georgia and LSU. FSU would tie a program wins record that year and would compete in its first NCAA Tournament the next. Litwhiler would last nine seasons in Tallahassee and take Florida State to the College World Series three times.

Fred Hatfield (1964)

Record: 23-13
National Ranking: None
Key Players: Ken Suarez, C; Bob Wilcox, OF; Cliff Ranew, P
Overview: Fred Hatfield inherited a Florida State team that had made consecutive College World Series appearances, but it did take a step back in Hatfield’s first season. After a 12-2 start, the Seminoles finished 11-11 over their final 22 games. Hatfield took FSU to the College World Series the following season and to the NCAA Tournament in each of the final four years of his tenure.

Jack Stallings (1969)

Record: 38-13-2
National Ranking: No. 10 Collegiate Baseball
Key Players: Mike Easom, IF; Dick Gold, 2B; George Lott, P
Overview: Florida State did not make the NCAA Tournament in 1969, but accomplished a lot of other things. In the first year under Jack Stallings, FSU won 38 games and went 5-2 against ranked opponents. The following season, Stallings took FSU to the national championship game where it was defeated by USC, 2-1. Stallings would coach for six seasons at FSU.

Woody Woodward (1975)

Record: 49-10, lost to Seton Hall in College World Series
National Ranking: No. 7 Collegiate Baseball
Key Players: Steve Tebbetts, OF; Larry Jones, P; Danny O’Brien, P
Overview: It would have been hard for Woody Woodward’s tenure to have gotten off to a better start. The Seminoles tied a program record for wins and reached the College World Series. It was the first time that FSU made the NCAA Tournament under a first-year head coach. FSU’s stay in Omaha was just two games as it fell to Eastern Michigan and then Seton Hall.

Dick Howser (1979)

Record: 43-17-1, eliminated by Delaware in NCAA Tournament
National Ranking: None
Key Players: Craig Patterson, 2B; Mike Fuentes, OF; Dick Wiggins, P
Overview: Dick Howser had the shortest tenure of any Florida State head coach. A standout as a player, Howser’s lone season wasn’t much different than Woody Woodyard’s final season. Howser won one fewer game than the year before and FSU’s NCAA Tournament stint was also “two and a barbecue”. Howser would leave Tallahassee to take on a second stint as manager of the New York Yankees.

Mike Martin (1980)

Record: 51-12, lost to Arizona in College World Series
National Ranking: No. 7 Collegiate Baseball
Key Players: Mike Fuentes, OF; Jeff Ledbetter, OF/P; Jim Weaver, P
Overview: After an 0-2 start, Mike Martin won 51 of his final 61 games during his inaugural season. At one point in the season, the Seminoles won 20 games in a row. FSU swept through its regional, but lasted just two games at the College World Series. After falling to Hawaii, the Seminoles were eliminated by Golden Spikes Award winner Terry Francona and eventual national champion Arizona.

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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