Gordie Gillespie, who retired from coaching in 2010 as college baseball’s all-time winningest coach, died Saturday night at the age of 88, after a long illness.
A 2008 Ripon College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Gordie spent 59 years as a college baseball coach, compiling 1,893 career victories. Two hundred thirty-nine of those came in his 10 years as the head coach for Ripon College.
During that span, Gordie set a new standard for success in the Midwest Conference, leading Ripon to six conference championships and six NCAA Regional appearances. He was also named MWC Coach of the Year six times, while becoming the first and only coach in MWC history to receive that honor in three consecutive seasons (2001-03).
Although he coached at Ripon for just 10 years, Gordie still ranks second in program history for career wins, while holding the school record for career winning percentage (.648). He coached Ripon to four of their top six single season win totals in school history, and is the only coach in program history to win at least 30 games in more than one season, accomplishing that feat twice (2001 and 2003).
“Gordie treasured his time at Ripon College and was extremely proud of the athletes he coached while he was there,” said former Ripon athletic director and baseball and basketball coach Bob Gillespie, one of Gordie’s seven children, who served as an assistant coach during Gordie’s tenure at Ripon. “He left an indelible mark on the Ripon community as he did every place that he coached.”
In his 59 years as a head baseball coach at Lewis (Ill.), St. Francis (Ill.), and Ripon, Gordie experienced just five losing seasons, with three of those being his first year with each respective team. He was named NAIA Coach of the Century in 1998.
Gordie also coached Joliet Catholic High School to five IHSA Football State Championships, including four in a row (1975-78), while leading them to 51 wins in a 52-game span. He also became the first person to ever be inducted into three different Illinois Coaches Halls of Fame. As a basketball, football, and baseball coach Gordie compiled 2,402 victories, against 1,170 losses and eight ties for a combined winning percentage of .672.
“Saturday, we lost a great person, but also a terrific teacher of life skills. Gordie touched so many lives on our campus and community,” Ripon athletic director Julie Johnson said. “Our thoughts are with the entire Gillespie family, especially Bob, Penny, and Scott.”
Gordie and his widow, Joan, have 40 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren between them. Arrangements will be updated as soon as they are known.