After 464 wins in 24 years with the Bobcats, former coach Bob Wren was immortalized in 1997 with a ballpark in his name.
Current coach Joe Carbone, already the owner of 659 wins in a mere 23 years, might not retire from Ohio with a stadium named after him, but he will leave a lasting impact on the many players he coached.
Carbone, who has the most wins of any coach in Ohio’s history, said Monday he will officially retire at the end of this season before signing a new contract to coach one more year in 2012.
The news was a surprise to the current and former players who could not imagine the baseball team without Carbone, who is currently the longest-tenured coach at Ohio.
Sophomore Seth Streich said he always learns something from Carbone’s speeches before practices and games.
“He’s helping me mature so much as a person,” Streich said. “He’s that guy in the back of your head that is just telling you, when your parents aren’t around … He’s someone who’s always there to remind you of the right thing to do.”
Although Garrett Black came to Ohio as a walk-on and began the season on the bench, Carbone gave him a chance to play. Black has started at shortstop for the Bobcats ever since.
“I love the guy,” Black said. “He’s a great guy. … He yells at me, does anything to make me do things right, do the fundamentals right. Just crams it into my mind every day that I have to do it this way.
“I might not like it at the moment, but when I look back, it’s helping me with my baseball skills a lot every day.”
Former Bobcat Gauntlett Eldemire is one of 42 of Carbone’s former players to play for a professional team. Last year, Eldemire was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies.
“He’s always real strict on fundamentals,” Eldemire said. “His teams are always fundamentally-sound ball clubs. You get used to it, though.
“He was like a second father to a lot of players. He helped us a lot with managing the college atmosphere.”
Hitting coach Scott Malinowski played at Ohio from 1995-98 before signing with the New York Mets. He said Carbone’s approach to coaching has not changed since he played for him.
“It’s tough to think about somebody else running the program,” Malinowski said.
“It’s had his persona and his face with it for almost 25 years now. And every coach in the history of the program has been an OU grad, so he kind of fell in the line of coach Wren, coach (Jerry) France.”
As for Carbone, he’ll be ready to leave Ohio after 24 years, which matches the tenure of Wren, Carbone’s mentor during his own playing days.
“I was an assistant coach for 18 years,” Carbone said. “So I’ve been a college baseball assistant coach or head coach for 42 years.
“So, you know, I’m comfortable with the decision.”