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American Baseball Coaches Association History

The American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), founded in 1945, is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches. Its over 15,000 members represent all 50 states and 41 countries. Since its initial meeting of 27 college baseball coaches in June 1945, Association membership has broadened to include nine divisions: NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, NJCAA, Pacific Association Division, High School, Youth and Travel Baseball.

The next ABCA Convention will be the 81st annual ABCA Convention. The convention will be held Jan. 2-5, 2025 in Washington, D.C.! The ABCA also hosts Barnstormers Regional Coaching Clinics and educational webinars throughout the year.

On June 29, 1945, a group of college baseball coaches gathered in New York City to formulate ideas for the promotion and improvement of the collegiate game. Coach Eppy Barnes, Colgate University, and coach Joe Bedenk, Pennsylvania State University, originated the idea that college baseball needed organization and direction. Prior to 1945, a survey revealed that only one-third of the more than 600 colleges were playing baseball. More than 140 coaches responded to the survey approving the formation of a college baseball coaching organization.

The first meeting was held at the New York Athletic Club on June 29, 1945. Twenty-seven coaches were in attendance. Presentations were made urging college coaches to organize so they could better promote the game, help gather national statistics and cooperate with professional baseball. Former college coach and President of the Brooklyn Dodgers Branch Rickey was one of the speakers. It was determined that a constitution would be written. The name of the new organization was to be named the American Association of College Baseball Coaches (AACBC). It was voted that each member would pay dues, which were set at five dollars for active members and two dollars for allied members.

The first elected officers were: President - Eppy Barnes, Colgate University; First Vice President - Ray Fisher, University of Michigan; Second Vice President - Clint Evans, University of California; Third Vice President - Red Rolfe, Yale University; and Secretary/Treasurer - George "Lefty" James, Cornell University.

The founding fathers decided they would hold meetings (conventions) each year and they would be held with the NCAA meeting.

The officers elected at the July, 1945 meeting were selected to serve one more year. Eppy Barnes has been the only president of the organization to serve two terms.

In January, 1946 in the city of St. Louis, the second convention of the AACBC was held with approximately 60 members in attendance. Items of discussion included: All-America teams, a playoff system, promoting the game, creation of conferences and leagues, and problems with early signings by professional baseball.

Since those early years, the Association has grown to more than 15,000 members with members hailing from 41 different countries. By 1980, the AACBC's membership had broadened significantly to include coaches other than just college members. At the January, 1981 convention held in Miami, the membership voted to change the name of the Association to the present name of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA).

Almost all of the great amateur coaches have been active members in the American Baseball Coaches Association. Many of them have served as President. Active coaches may be elected by the membership as the incoming Fourth Vice President. They then work their way through the Vice President chairs and eventually become President.

Only the ABCA's first President, Eppy Barnes, served for more than one year (he served two). Since then, the ABCA has elected a new President every year. Presidents have come from all divisions - NCAA I, II & III, NAIA, Junior College and High School. Those who have served as president have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities and the highest dedication to the position and the coaching profession. It is because of the efforts of these men that the coaching profession is held in such high esteem.

The ABCA has had five full-time Executive Directors: Lee Eilbracht (1978-87), Jerry Miles (1987-91), Dick Bergquist (1991-94), Dave Keilitz (1994-2014) and Craig Keilitz (2014-present).

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1945-46 - Eppy Barnes, Colgate University (NY)
1947 - Clint Evans, University of California-Berkeley
1948 - Joe Bedenk, Penn State University
1949 - Arthur Mansfield, University of Wisconsin
1950 - J.F. McKale, University of Arizona
1951 - Art Reichle, UCLA
1952 - Paul Amen, U.S. Military Academy (NY)
1953 - Otto Vogel, University of Iowa
1954 - John Kobs, Michigan State University
1955 - Ralph Coleman, Oregon State University
1956 - Ethan Allen, Yale University (CT)
1957 - J.A. “Ike” Tomlinson, Arkansas State University
1958 - L.C. “Cap” Timm, Iowa State University
1959 - Rod Dedeaux, University of Southern California
1960 - J. Orlean Christian, University of Connecticut
1961 - Walter Rabb, University of North Carolina
1962 - Marty Karow, Ohio State University
1963 - Bud Daniel, University of Wyoming
1964 - Jim Whatley, University of Georgia
1965 - Archie Allen, Springfield College (MA)
1966 - John “Hi” Simmons, University of Missouri
1967 - William “Dutch” Fehring, Stanford University (CA)
1968 - Danny Litwhiler, Michigan State University
1969 - Jack Kaiser, St. John’s University (NY)
1970 - Dick Siebert, University of Minnesota
1971 - Frank Sancet, University of Arizona
1972 - Tom Chandler, Texas A&M University
1973 - John Winkin, University of Maine
1974 - Dr. William Arce, Claremont-Mudd College (CA)
1975 - Ron Fraser, University of Miami (FL)
1976 - Harold Kraft, University of North Dakota
1977 - Glen Tuckett, Brigham Young University (UT)
1978 - Elmer Kosub, St. Mary’s University (TX)
1979 - Matt Bolger, Rutgers University (NJ)
1980 - Jack Stallings, Georgia Southern University
1981 - Bobo Brayton, Washington State University
1982 - Dave Keilitz, Central Michigan University
1983 - John “Tinker” Connelly, Northeastern University (MA)
1984 - Tom Petroff, University of Northern Colorado
1985 - Ron Oestrike, Eastern Michigan University
1986 - Ron Polk, Mississippi State University
1987 - Bob Bennett, Fresno State University (CA)
1988 - Bob Hannah, University of Delaware
1989 - Duane Banks, University of Iowa
1990 - Charlie Greene, Miami-Dade South Community College (FL)
1991 - Gene McArtor, University of Missouri
1992 - Jim Dimick, St. Olaf College (MN)
1993 - Jerry Kindall, University of Arizona
1994 - Mark Johnson, Texas A&M University
1995 - Dr. Carroll Land, Point Loma Nazarene University (CA)
1996 - Chuck Anderson, Florida Southern College
1997 - Bob Warn, Indiana State University
1998 - Gary Pullins, Brigham Young University (UT)
1999 - Ed Flaherty, University of Southern Maine
2000 - Keith Madison, University of Kentucky
2001 - Sonny Pittaro, Rider University (NJ)
2002 - Tom O'Connell, Burlington Catholic Central High School (WI)
2003 - David Altopp, Lee University (TN)
2004 - Danny Hall, Georgia Tech
2005 - Irish O'Reilly, Lewis University (IL)
2006 - Bill Holowaty, Eastern Connecticut State University
2007 - Kent Shelley, Johnson County Community College (KS)
2008 - Steve Smith, Baylor University (TX)
2009 - Pat McMahon, University of Florida
2010 - Joe Roberts, Armstrong Atlantic State University (GA)
2011 - Tim Mead, Walsh University (OH)
2012 - John Schaly, Ashland University (OH)
2013 - Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt University (TN)
2014 - Scott Berry, Mayville State University (ND)
2015 - Ed Blankmeyer, St. John’s University (NY)
2016 - John Casey, Tufts University (MA)
2017 - Jeff Messer, Slippery Rock University (PA)
2018 - Rich Maloney, Ball State University (IN)
2019 - John Kolasinski, Siena Heights University (MI)
2020 - Stu Fritz, Hope College (MI)
2021 - Dan McDonnell, University of Louisville (KY)
2022 - Rick Hitt, South Florida State College
2023 - Jim Schlossnagle, Texas A&M University

In 1983, the ABCA Board of Directors was formed as the governing body of the association. The Board establishes general policy, directs the business and affairs of the Association, is responsible for Constitution/By-Law Amendments, and in general, governs the Association. The Board consists of all Past Presidents, the current President and First, Second, Third and Fourth Vice Presidents of the ABCA, three members of the Executive Committee from among the Divisional Chairs, and the Chair of the ABCA Diversity in Baseball Committee. The three Divisional Chair members are elected to the Board by the Executive Committee members. Prior to 1983, the Association's governing body was known as the Executive Committee.

John Winkin, of the University of Maine, was elected as the Board's first chairman and served from 1983-85. The ABCA has had nine chairs since Winkin: Chuck Brayton, Washington State University (1986-88); Jack Stallings, Georgia Southern University (1989-91); Bud Daniel, University of Wyoming (1992-94); Bill Arce, Claremont-Mudd College (1995-97); Carroll Land, Point Loma Nazarene University (1998-2003); Glen Tuckett, Brigham Young University (2004-09); Jack Kaiser, St. John's University (2010-12); Mark Johnson, Texas A&M/Sam Houston State (2013-18); Keith Madison, University of Kentucky (2019-Present).

The Board holds two meetings at each national convention and also meets at the NCAA Division I College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. There are also several conference calls held each year with the seven-person Standing Committee, which is chaired by the Chairman of the Board.

The current Executive Committee deals with issues that arise from each division (NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, Junior College, Pacific Association Division, High School, Travel and Youth Baseball). They also discuss issues that may come from ABCA committees or the general membership. Those items that involve policy, constitution or by-law changes, or those items that may involve considerable expense, are sent on to the Board of Directors with a recommendation from the Executive Committee.

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Years - Name, Organization
1983-85 - John Winkin, University of Maine
1986-88 - Bobo Brayton, Washington State University
1989-91 - Jack Stallings, Georgia Southern University
1992-94 - Bud Daniel, University of Wyoming
1995-97 - Bill Arce, Claremont-Mudd College (CA)
1998-03 - Carroll Land, Point Loma Nazarene University (CA)
2004-09 - Glen Tuckett, Brigham Young University (UT)
2010-12 - Jack Kaiser, St. John's University (NY)
2013-18 - Mark Johnson, Texas A&M/Sam Houston State
2019-24 - Keith Madison, University of Kentucky
Present - John Casey, Johnson & Wales University (RI)

Each January, the ABCA hosts the largest baseball convention in the world. Almost 8,000 coaches attend the ABCA Convention, which is held at various locations around the United States. It is four days of non-stop baseball!

Normally, on the opening afternoon of the convention, all of the committees meet to discuss their issues. There are more than 20 such committees, including the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and the Standing Committee. The evening of the first day of the Convention is reserved for all the divisional business meetings. Actions taken at all these meetings are taken to the Executive Committee and governing bodies.

There are approximately 25 main-stage clinic speakers at each year's convention. These include some of the most knowledgeable and finest baseball coaches in the world. Each shares his/her expertise with all of the coaches in attendance. Additionally, the Expo Theater offers another area for presentations from ABCA Partners and exhibiting companies to showcase ideas and innovations. Also, on Friday & Saturday of the Convention, there is a Youth Coaches Session featuring clinics focused on topics specifically for youth teams up to age 14.

One of the most prestigious events of each convention is the ABCA Hall of Fame Banquet. At the Hall of Fame Banquet, the induction of the newest members of the ABCA Hall of Fame takes place. The annual ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award is also presented to an individual who has contributed at the highest level to the sport of baseball.

Additionally, more than 350 companies with 3,000 company employees are on hand to display state-of-the-art baseball equipment and services at the ABCA Trade Show. These exhibitors use over 230,000 square feet of exhibit space and many of the newest baseball inventions and innovations are debuted annually.

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Year - City (Location)
1945 - New York (Athletic Club)
1946 - St. Louis (Jefferson Hotel)
1947 - New York (Hotel New Yorker)
1948 - New York (Hotel New Yorker)
1949 - San Francisco (St. Francis Hotel)
1950 - New York (Hotel Commodore)
1951 - Dallas (Adolphus Hotel)
1952 - Cincinnati (Gibson Hotel)
1953 - Washington D.C. (Hotel Statler)
1954 - Cincinnati (Gibson Hotel)
1955 - New York (Hotel New Yorker)
1956 - Los Angeles (Hotel Statler)
1957 - St. Louis (Sheraton Jefferson Hotel)
1958 - Philadelphia (Bellevue Stratford Hotel)
1959 - Cincinnati (Sheraton Gibson Hotel)
1960 - New York (Manhattan Hotel)
1961 - Pittsburgh (Hilton Hotel)
1962 - Chicago (Conrad Hotel)
1963 - Los Angeles (Biltmore Hotel)
1964 - New York (Roosevelt Hotel)
1965 - Chicago (Conrad Hilton Hotel)
1966 - Washington D.C. (Mayflower Hotel)
1967 - Houston (Hotel America)
1968 - New York (Roosevelt Hotel)
1969 - Los Angeles (Biltmore Hotel)
1970 - Washington D.C. (Mayflower Hotel)
1971 - Houston (Marriott Hotel)
1972 - Miami Beach (Marco Polo Hotel)
1973 - Chicago (Conrad Hilton Hotel)
1974 - San Francisco (The Fairmont)
1975 - Washington D.C. (Mayflower Hotel)
1976 - St. Louis (Stouffer's Riverfront Inn)
1977 - Miami Beach (Deauville Hotel)
1978 - Atlanta (Marriott Hotel)
1979 - San Francisco (Sheraton Hotel)
1980 - New Orleans (New Orleans Hilton)
1981 - Miami Beach (The Fountainebleau)
1982 - Houston (Shamrock Hotel)
1983 - San Diego (Town & Country Hotel)
1984 - Dallas (Hyatt Regency)
1985 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
1986 - New Orleans (New Orleans Hilton)
1987 - San Diego (Sheraton Harbor Island)
1988 - Atlanta (Atlanta Hilton & Towers)
1989 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
1990 - San Francisco (San Francisco Marriott)
1991 - New Orleans (New Orleans Hilton)
1992 - Dallas (Loews Anatole)
1993 - Atlanta (Marriott Marquis)
1994 - Anaheim (Anaheim Hilton & Towers)
1995 - Chicago (Hyatt Regency)
1996 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
1997 - Dallas (Wyndham Anatole)
1998 - San Diego (Marriott Hotel & Marina)
1999 - Atlanta (Marriott Marquis & Hyatt Regency)
2000 - Chicago (Hyatt Regency)
2001 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
2002 - Orlando (Marriott World Center)
2003 - San Diego (Marriott Hotel & Marina)
2004 - San Antonio (Marriott Rivercenter)
2005 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
2006 - Chicago (Hyatt Regency)
2007 - Orlando (World Center Marriott)
2008 - Philadelphia (Marriott Hotel)
2009 - San Diego (Marriott Hotel & Marina)
2010 - Dallas (Hilton Anatole)
2011 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
2012 - Anaheim (Anaheim Convention Center)
2013 - Chicago (Hyatt Regency)
2014 - Dallas (Hilton Anatole)
2015 - Orlando (World Center Marriott)
2016 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
2017 - Anaheim (Anaheim Convention Center)
2018 - Indianapolis (Indiana Convention Center)
2019 - Dallas (Gaylord Texan)
2020 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
2021 - Virtual (Online)
2022 - Chicago (McCormick Place Convention Center)
2023 - Nashville (Gaylord Opryland)
2024 - Dallas (Gaylord Texan)

The American Baseball Coaches Association has founded many programs and services throughout its history which have been instrumental to the growth of amateur baseball.

The College World Series was originally founded by the ABCA, then known as the American Association of Collegiate Baseball Coaches (AACBC), following the first meeting in 1945. The first AACBC College World Series was held in June of 1947 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was a two-team series with the University of California defeating Yale University the first two games of a two-out-of-three series. The next year, the AACBC requested $5,000 from the NCAA for the College World Series, which was also held in Kalamazoo. In 1949, the AACBC expanded the tournament to four teams and the series moved to Wichita, Kansas. The College World Series moved to Omaha in 1950, where it has been held ever since, and eight teams were involved. Today the CWS is conducted by the NCAA, but the Association was the group behind the start of this popular series and continues to assist in any way possible.

In 1949, the Association established its first All-America team. Since that time, ABCA All-America teams have been selected in each division of the ABCA: NCAA Divisions I, II & III, NAIA, NJCAA Divisions I, II & III, Pacific Association Division, and High School. Rawlings Sporting Goods presents the All-America, Gold Glove and All-Region Teams. Each division has an All-America/Coach of the Year Committee. Regional chairs of each division's All-America Committee collect nominations, votes and information. ABCA/Rawlings All-Region teams are recognized in the NCAA, Pacific Association, and High School divisions. The regional chairs of each division then meet at the site of their respective national championships or via conference call and select the ABCA/Rawlings All-America teams, ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Teams and the ABCA/Rawlings National Position Player and Pitchers of the Year, as well as the ABCA/ATEC Regional and National Coaches of the Year. Each year, more than 1,500 athletes are recognized as well as hundreds of coaches.

The ABCA is committed to the success and growth of baseball through youth baseball. The Association is able and willing to assist in any way possible. In the past, thousands of young people have gone through ABCA sponsored youth clinics, including those still sponsored in Lewiston, Idaho, and Grand Junction, Colorado. Additionally, the ABCA Barnstormers Clinics are regional one-day teaching events geared toward high school, travel ball and youth coaches.

The ABCA introduced the ABCA Travel Baseball and Youth Baseball Service awards at the 2023 ABCA Convention. These awards recognize coaches at the travel baseball and youth baseball level that have made a lasting impact in their community and with their players.

There are many additional ways the ABCA honors and recognizes its coaching members. A few of these recognitions are the ABCA/ATEC Coach of the Year Awards, Hall of Fame, ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez AwardCentury Club, Lifetime Membership AwardsAcademic Excellence Award and the ABCA/ATEC Assistant Coach of the Year Award.

One of the major roles of the ABCA has been its work with the governing bodies of the groups represented by the coaches – the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHA). The ABCA also works closely with the Collegiate Commissioners Association, Major League Baseball, youth leagues and associations, USA Baseball and other baseball federations around the world.

It is the desire of the Association to have a relationship with all these groups, so coaches, players and student-athletes will have the best working and playing conditions possible to constantly improve our sport.

First and foremost, the ABCA strives for inclusion, ethics, sportsmanship and integrity to the highest degree. At the first meeting in 1945, the topic of coaching ethics was discussed and deemed of utmost importance. That certainly continues to hold true today.

The ABCA Board of Directors unanimously passed a statement entitled "ABCA Statement on Sportsmanship, Values and Ideals" and a "Code of Ethics". An ABCA Ethics Committee has been established and meets at each ABCA Convention. In addition, an effort is made annually to have at least one clinic speaker on the topic of ethics and leadership. Past ethics speakers have included Jon Gordon, Todd Gongwer, Nathan Whitaker and Pat Williams.

The Ethics in Coaching Award was established in 2009 and was given to Mark Johnson, a member of the ABCA Board of Directors and then-coach at Sam Houston State University. It has been awarded annually at each ABCA Convention since. In 2017, the Board of Directors voted to rename it the ABCA/Dave Keilitz Ethics in Coaching Award in honor of longtime Executive Director and former Central Michigan University coach Dave Keilitz.

In terms of coaching ethics, the ABCA is committed to making this issue its highest priority.

The association is also committed to diversity and inclusion within the sport and coaching community. The ABCA Diversity in Baseball Committee researches and implements opportunities that help to grow diversity for players and coaches. The Chair of the committee also serves on the ABCA Board of Directors and ABCA Executive Committee. The committee hosts Diversity in Baseball workshops at the ABCA Convention and also assists the association in youth clinics with the Major League Baseball Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program throughout the year.

Through the long and proud history of the Association, the ABCA has always strived to make the great profession of coaching better and tried to create the best situation possible for the coaches, student-athletes and all baseball fans.

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