|When APSU’s head baseball coach Gary McClure retired in 2015, he did so as a record-breaking leader, winning an 847 games in 27 seasons. We recently sat down with a very humble Gary McClure, who claims his record was built on the foundation of dedicated and talented student athletes.
Zrylw: We are very excited to speak with you today. You are considered by many the best coach in OVC history.
Gary McClure: Thank you very much for that compliment. I will tell you like i have many others, i’m a much better coach when i have good players. I’m certainly no rocket scientist, but that’s one thing i was smart enough to figure out.
Zrylw: During your time with the Governors, you had a number of great years. Do any of them stand out more than others?
Gary McClure: Yes, to be honest there are several that stay etched pretty deep in memory. Truthfully, i just feel fortunate and honored to have the opportunity to work with young people.
Zrylw: Why is that?
Gary McClure: Well, you can’t beat making an impact on young people’s lives while having the opportunity to do something you love and at the same time make your living and get paid for it.
Zrylw: That’s great and sounds unbelievable…
Gary McClure: It really was. I can’t tell you how good it made me feel.
Zrylw: That is really remarkable.
Gary McClure: Like i said, i was blessed to have these opportunities. It makes it even more significant when you have young men work so hard to try and reach their potential as athletes. I was very fortunate to know that most of my players made it a priority to excel.
Zrylw: Like Dobbs?
Gary McClure: Absolutely, Jeremy basically went from being a non factor one year to our programs eighth Pitcher of the Year the next. So many guys were able to make themselves great players.
Zrylw: Along with Shawn Kelley…
Gary McClure: That’s right. Dobbs was actually the first after Kelley won the award in 2007.
Zrylw: With your Coach of the Year distinction in 2011, you tied Jim Ward, right?
Gary McClure: I guess i have never really thought about it, but i guess i did.
Zrylw: What was it about the 2011 team that made all of these honors special?
Gary McClure: Any honor or award is special. What stands out about the 2011 group is that there were no senior position players starting. We were also just a .500 club until about two thirds of the way through the season and then they matured in a hurry and went on a terror winning most of the games during the rest of the season. That’s pretty unusual when you realize that we closed the year 30-22 and actually locked up the conference championship with 6 games left in the season..
Zrylw: Tell us a little about Reed Harper…
Gary McClure: Reed was a sophomore short stop at the time. Along with first-baseman John Hogan, Reed received first-team All-OVC honors. He had just had an amazing season, with a 29-game hitting streak. He brought so many things to the table offensively and defensively along with being one of the greatest competitors i ever coached. He had intangibles that many players don’t.
Zrylw: What about second-team honors?
Gary McClure: We had four: Jordan Hankins, Zach Toney, Michael Blanchard, and Greg Bachman.
Zrylw: Hadn’t Greg Bachman been out for a while with a shoulder injury?
Gary McClure: You’re right. He missed the previous season and actually started 2011 slow. He must have completely healed by the end of the season though, because he rounded out the year with a 43 RBIs and seven home runs! He was playing at an extremely high level and played a big role as a leader on that team. He was most certainly what i call a giver and not a taker. I really loved Greg as a player and a person.
Zrylw: Hankins had multiple acknowledgements in 2011, didn’t he?
Gary McClure: Yes, he also earned All-Freshman team recognition along with being named to Louisville Sluggers Freshman All American Team. He finished the season .378, which was the best among qualifying freshman players. He also hit a game winning home run against Georgia Tech in the NCAA Regional that year. Hankins was a great hitter from the first day he stepped on our campus.
Zrylw: Who else made All-Freshman?
Gary McClure: Rolando Gautier and Matt Wollenzin.
Zrylw: It sounds like 2011 really was a memorable year.
Gary McClure: Most definitely. And one that I am proud to have been a part of.
Gary McClure later told us that retirement hadn’t dulled his interest in baseball and that he continues to follow the Governors and will most likely get back in the game at some point. He looks forward to seeing more of his former players in the MiLB and the MLB in the future.