COC to host Mike Gillespie Field dedication ceremony

Mike Gillespie
Mike Gillespie
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News release 

The College of the Canyons Athletic Department is scheduled to March 16 to host a field dedication ceremony to unveil the recently named Mike Gillespie Field in honor of the legendary baseball coach’s distinguished career, the college announced in a news release. 

The festivities begin at noon Saturday, March 16, with a pregame luncheon in the Cougar Den followed by an on-field dedication ceremony beginning at 1:15 p.m. First pitch of the game between Bakersfield College and Canyons will follow at 2 p.m. 

As part of the celebration, coach Gillespie’s former players, staff members, coaching colleagues, family, friends and supporters are invited to attend the ceremony. Admission is free, with attendees asked to RSVP in advance at tinyurl.com/5n8hhpjz

The field dedication event follows a March 2023 decision by the Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees to name the baseball field in Gillespie’s honor.  

Gillespie, who also taught English, physical education and health sciences at COC, guided the Cougars on the diamond for 16 seasons (1971-1986). He also served as athletic director from 1977 to 1986 and was a quarterback coach in the early days of COC’s football program.  

Affectionately referred to as “Skip,” Gillespie’s respect for the game, baseball acumen, and attention to detail drew the love and respect of all who knew him and proved to be a winning combination on the field, the COC release said. 

Gillespie compiled a 420-167 overall record (.716 winning percentage), won three 3C2A State Championships (1981, 1983, 1986) and 11 conference titles (1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986) at COC.  

The three state championships were the first three such titles in the college’s history. Gillespie’s teams also finished as state runner-up in 1982 and 1985, making him the only California Community College coach to make it to five state finals in a six-year span. 

Gillespie is one of only two head coaches in COC history to win multiple state championships in their sport, joining COC men’s/women’s golf head coach Gary Peterson. 

Gillespie was inducted into the COC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007 as an individual for his accomplishments as head baseball coach. He was also enshrined in the COC Hall of Fame as a member of the 1981 State Championship (Class of 2009), 1983 State Championship (Class of 2019) and 1986 State Championship (Class of 2023) baseball teams. 

Following the 1986 state title run at COC, Gillespie returned to his alma mater to take the helm of the baseball programs at University of Southern California following the retirement of longtime head coach Rod Dedeaux. 

Over the next 20 seasons (1987-2006) Gillespie posted a .618 winning percentage for the Trojans, going 763-471-2 and leading USC to the 1998 NCAA National Championship. Gillespie and the Trojans had previously finished runner-up for a national title in 1995.  

After USC, Gillespie reinvigorated the baseball program at University of California, Irvine. Over 11 seasons (2008-2018), he amassed 393 wins and led UCI to five NCAA Regional appearances, including a trip to the 2014 College World Series.  

Gillespie is a member of the California Community College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame (Class of 1993), the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (Class of 2009) and the USC Athletic Hall of Fame (Class of 2018). He retired from baseball following the 2018 season. 

For more information about the Mike Gillespie Field dedication ceremony, contact Chad Peters at 661-362-3742. 

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