Clarksville TN – Gary McClure was a graduate assistant in 1987 when Austin Peay State University Baseball was without a coach. Billy Merkel had stepped down, and athletic director Bob Brooks needed to replace him. His options were to put out a nation-wide search, possibly interrupting fall practice and workouts, or he could name McClure as interim coach.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but as Gary McClure is approaching becoming the Ohio Valley Conference all-time wins leader, turns out it was the right decision.APSU Baseball was not in the forefront of athletics in 1987. APSU only had one OVC title(1972) prior to that. Since McClure was familiar with most of the incoming recruiting class and had worked with the returning Govs as a student assistant, Bob Brooks chose to elevate McClure, with the promise that if he enjoyed success during that interim season, he would be considered for the head-coaching position.
After finishing well below the .500 mark the previous two seasons and consecutive last-place OVC South Division finishes, the Governors finished 23-27 overall in 1988 with a 10-12 OVC mark, as many league wins they had garnered combined over the previous two seasons.
As a result, McClure was named the Governors permanent head coach.
Now 25 years later, the Iowa native needs just 25 victories to surpass the 776 victories recorded by Murray State’s Johnny Reagan.
Gary McClure will be inducted Saturday morning to the APSU Athletics Hall of Fame, and will join longtime APSU physician Dr. Cooper Beazley and Andrew Lorentzson at a 9:00am breakfast ceremony in the Dunn Center front lobby.
McClure has coached 37 first-team All-OVC players during his illustrious career, including eight OVC Pitchers of the Year and two Players of the Year. He also has seen 29 of his players selected in the Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. Five of his players-pitcher Jamie “Cat” Walker, pitcher George Sherrill, pitcher Shawn Kelley, catcher A.J. Ellis and pitcher Matt Reynolds-reached the major leagues, with the latter four still at the major league level.
McClure also stands alone as the only coach in league history to capture 300 or more OVC victories.
Tickets are still available for the Hall of Fame breakfast, and for more information, 931.221.7761.
SectionsAnnouncements, Austin Peay State University, Baseball, Featured Story, NCAA, Ohio Valley Conference, Schools, Sports
TopicsA.J. Ellis, Andrew Lorentzson, APSU, APSU Athletics Hall of Fame, APSU Baseball, Austin Peay State University, Billy Merkel, Bob Brooks, Clarksville TN, Cooper Beazley, Dunn Center, Gary McClure, George Sherrill, Iowa, Jamie Cat Walker, Johnny Reagan, Major League Baseball, Matt Reynolds, Murray State, Ohio Valley Conference, OVC Pitcher of the Year, OVC South Division, OVC Title, Player of the Year, Shawn Kelley