Celebrating 36 years as the Seminoles’ head coach in 2015, Mike Martin continues to redefine success by any standard of measure. With 1,813 career victories, a .742 winning percentage that ranks second among all active NCAA Division I coaches, 35 consecutive regional tournament appearances and 15 trips to the College World Series, Martin’s place in college baseball history is secure.
Martin was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007. Since then he has eclipsed the 1,500-, 1,600-, 1,700- and 1,800-win milestones, returned to the College World Series three times in the last seven seasons and has shown no sign of slowing down, while continuing to turn out All-Americans, Major League Draft choices and postseason participants.
Only two men, Texas’ Augie Garrido (1,920) and Wichita State’s Gene Stephenson (1,837), have won more games at the Division I level than the man whose uniform number – 11 – is universally substituted for his name among players, fans, colleagues, and even family members. There’s a reason Martin is treated like family among the Florida State faithful. He has been associated with the Seminoles for 43 of the program’s 68 seasons - as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
There have been 3,722 baseball games played in FSU history and Martin has been involved in 2,829 of those in some capacity. Even more impressively, he’s been on the field or in the dugout for 2,080 of the Seminoles’ 2,713 all-time victories. In a sport where you’re immortalized for batting .300, Martin has more than doubled that success rate – and then some – having had a hand in more than 76 percent of the program’s victories in some capacity.
In 2014, Martin’s Seminoles made their 52nd NCAA Tournament appearance and 37th straight postseason trip. Florida State captured its eighth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division after finishing the regular season with a 21-9 mark winning eight of 10 league series. The Seminole pitching staff turned in a respectable team ERA of 3.08 by season’s end, DJ Stewart was named a first team All-American by the ABCA and Luke Weaver became the 21st Seminole in school history to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft.
Two years prior, Martin led the Seminoles to the 50-win plateau for the 24th time in school history, while guiding FSU to its 15th College World Series appearance - both under his watch. In a season that started with many uncertainties most notably on the mound, those questions were quickly answered as Florida State ascended to the top of the rankings and stayed there for seven weeks. The Seminoles dominated play in the Atlantic Coast Conference finishing with a 24-6 record en route to a sixth straight Atlantic Division title. The 24 wins tied a league record for the most victories a mark established by two other teams including Martin’s 2008 squad. One of those wins, a 6-1 victory over Miami on April 21, pushed Martin ahead of Bill Wilhelm as the ACC’s all-time wins leader for conference wins. The Seminoles went undefeated during NCAA Regional and Super Regional play posting wins over UAB, Samford and Stanford to earn a trip to Omaha, where they won two games to finish in the top four of the national polls for the first time since 2000. At the end of the year, the long-time coach was recognized as Baseball America’s College Coach of the Year for the first time in his illustrious career.
With Martin at the helm since 1980, the Seminoles have won 16 conference championships with 11 from the Metro Conference and five in the ACC. Since moving to divisional play in 2006, Martin has led the Seminoles to at least a share of the ACC Atlantic Division title eight years in a row from 2007-2014. Florida State’s last ACC Championship came in 2010 when the ‘Noles defeated NC State in Greensboro, N.C. FSU has played in the conference title game in three of the last six years.
Quite naturally, Martin’s accomplishments have been recognized, as he has claimed conference coach of the year honors 13 times; six times in the Metro Conference and seven times in the ACC with his latest coming in 2012. James Ramsey, Robert Benincasa, Jayce Boyd and Devon Travis, stars from the 2012 season, were recognized by earning All-America and All-ACC honors. In all, Martin’s Seminoles have collected 87 All-America and 119 All-ACC honors. Furthermore, he has coached seven players – Mike Fuentes, Mike Loynd, J.D. Drew, Shane Robinson, Tony Thomas, Jr., Buster Posey and James Ramsey – who were named National Player of the Year.
Over the past three decades, Martin hasn’t only produced great players. He has developed a program that consistently turns out great teams. FSU baseball is the second-winningest program all-time, trailing only Texas, which has played 118 seasons. That’s 51 seasons more than the Seminoles, who along with the Longhorns, are the only programs in college baseball history to have won 73 percent of their games.
Since the start of the 2000 season, Florida State has won more games (734) than any other program. Since 1990, no Division I school has more top 10 finishes, 50-plus win seasons or participated in more NCAA Regionals.
What Martin and the Seminoles have accomplished from 1990 to the present may rank as one of the great feats in college athletics. Beyond their staggering success in the regular season, the Seminoles have flourished in the postseason. From their 25 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances – 21 as the hosts – the Seminoles have finished their season at the College World Series 11 times. Since the NCAA instituted Super Regional play in 1999, FSU has reached the penultimate postseason round 13 times and played host at Dick Howser Stadium on 10 occasions.
The Road to Omaha in 2010 was anything but a smoothly paved super-highway, even though the Seminoles sailed through their first 12 games without a blemish, including a three-game home sweep of Georgia and single wins over Florida, Jacksonville and North Florida. FSU promptly dropped its first two ACC games – at home – against top-ranked Virginia, avoiding a sweep with a Sunday triumph.
It would be that kind of season in the ACC, which proved to be the most competitive conference in the nation, with eight of 12 teams registering at least 38 victories and advancing to the NCAA Regionals – a new league standard. At 18-9 in ACC play, the Seminoles controlled their own destiny in their bid for a fourth consecutive, outright ACC Atlantic Division title as they headed to Clemson. The Tigers promptly swept the Seminoles, who still managed to secure the Atlantic top spot by virtue of a tie-breaker.
The Seminoles suffered their fourth consecutive loss – their longest losing streak of the season - to Miami in the opening game of the ACC Tournament, before turning things around. An 11-4 win over top-seeded Virginia served as the springboard to another remarkable postseason run. The Seminoles routed Boston College, and then turned back NC State 8-3 in the championship game at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C. for their fifth ACC title.
Continuing its momentum in Connecticut, FSU pushed its winning streak to six, sweeping the NCAA Norwich Regional. Consecutive two-run wins over Oregon put the ‘Noles back in a Super Regional, this time at home against Vanderbilt. McGee’s walk-off homer in the opening game kept the ball rolling. Undeterred by a 6-2 loss in the second game, the ‘Noles used a three-run, eighth inning double by Sherman Johnson and McGee’s 12th save of the season to score a 7-6 victory and earn the program’s 20th College World Series trip.
The 2008 Seminoles snapped a seven-year drought between CWS appearances – the longest in Martin’s tenure – by rolling up a 54-14 record, which included an ACC-record 24-6 league mark. Led by consensus All-American and National Player of the Year Buster Posey, the Seminoles slugged their way back into the national spotlight. With five All-ACC players in the fold, FSU produced a nation-leading and ACC-record .355 batting average to go along with 103 home runs. Along the way the group delivered Martin his 1,500th career victory, fittingly in a 17-8 rout of Georgia Tech.
It was a long time coming for a program which dominated the decade. From 2000-2009, the Seminoles won 500 games, two ACC Tournament titles, authored a rare 60-win season (2002), turned out National Players of the Year (Shane Robinson, Tony Thomas, Jr. and Buster Posey) and four first-round draft picks. No one suspected that the 2000 team – Martin’s 19th to reach the 50-win landmark in 22 seasons – would be the last to find its way to Rosenblatt Stadium. After all, the Seminoles had become regular June visitors and seemed poised to break through for its first CWS title after consecutive strong showings in 1999 (second) and 2000 (tied for third).
From 1990-1999, Florida State made seven CWS appearances, including a program-best stretch of three consecutive (1994-96). The ’99 Seminoles provided the capper. They came through the ACC schedule with a 22-2 mark – the best winning percentage in league history – which helped Martin land coach of the year honors. Marshall McDougall, who left the nation buzzing about FSU baseball when he slammed an NCAA record six home runs in a single game at Maryland earlier in the season, helped the ‘Noles roll through the Regional and Super Regional rounds at home. In Omaha, FSU rallied from a second-round loss to reach the title game by beating Stanford 14-11 in 13 innings. The dream season ended with a heart-breaking, 6-5 loss to Miami with a title on the line.
Beyond the 527 wins in the 10-year stretch, there were plenty of memories. Martin, who would post his 1,000th career victory in ’98 against Jacksonville, had a chance to coach his son – catcher Mike Martin, Jr. – for three seasons. He also filled out lineup cards with names like Paul Wilson, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jonathan Johnson and Eduardo Perez. The Seminoles also joined the ACC in 1992, posting the league’s best record three times, while winning two tournament titles during the decade.
In short, Martin’s Seminoles of the 1990s raised the standard of excellence established under his direction throughout the 1980s. The Seminoles won nine Metro Conference Tournament titles and made three College World Series appearances between 1980 and 1989, thanks to the likes of Mike Fuentes, Jeff Ledbetter, Luis Alicea, Mike Loynd, Paul Sorrento and Richie Lewis.
Winning, however, does not define Martin’s brilliant career. The 2001 team got a first-hand reminder of that prior to a series at Stanford. Leaving the San Francisco airport, Martin and then-assistant Chip Baker gained control of the team’s charter bus after the driver suffered a fatal heart attack, safely guiding the bus to the side of a busy freeway. Martin and Baker were presented with the university’s prestigious Westcott Award for their bravery in saving the lives of players and staff.
Throughout his career, Martin has stressed the importance of developing true student-athletes. The Seminoles must first win and lose with class; a direct reflection on the man who leads the program. In six seasons of presenting the ACC Sportsmanship Award, Martin’s Seminoles won the award twice. Academically, Florida State has been a fixture among the top teams in the ACC for overall GPA. Led by two-time ACC Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year James Ramsey, the Seminoles placed a league-best and school record nine student-athletes on the 2012 All-ACC Academic Team. Gage Smith was then recognized as the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in back-to-back years in 2013 and 2014 and over that two-year stretch Florida State led the ACC with a league-best 12 Seminoles named to the All-ACC Academic Team. In all, Florida State baseball student-athletes have been selected to the academic team of distinction 54 times since its 2006 inception, while leading the conference six times in nine years. Five times the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year has been awarded to a Seminole with Buster Posey winning the award in its inaugural season in 2008. Ramsey and Smith have been the last two recipients of the award since 2011 each winning the league’s top academic honor twice. Ramsey finished his senior campaign as the 2012 Capital One Baseball Academic All-America of the Year and was named a first team Academic All-American for the second straight year joining Greg Gromek as the only Seminoles to be named a two-time first team Academic All-America® in program history. Adding to the academic accolades in 2008, Posey was named the CoSIDA Academic Player of the Year – the first of its kind for the FSU Baseball program. Smith, along with teammate DJ Stewart, both garnered Academic All-America accolades in 2014 earning a spot on the second and third team, respectively.
There’s no question that the Seminoles’ outstanding character in the most difficult of times stems directly from their head coach. When Martin transferred to FSU from Wingate Junior College in 1965 to play centerfield for the Seminoles, it marked the beginning of a love affair that has never ended. His love for the game of baseball is matched only by the success he has had teaching it to aspiring players.
From the new facilities to the coaching staff to the unmatched community support, Martin has improved an already strong Seminole baseball tradition with every season. Just when it seems that the program can reach no higher plane, something bigger and better comes along. When Martin took over in 1980, it was taboo to mention “Omaha” around the ball club. No one wanted to jinx an FSU team that had made it to the College World Series only three times in the previous 16 seasons. After taking the Seminoles to that hallowed ground in his very first season, Martin would eventually make Omaha not only a household word, but a second home to the Seminoles, leading the program there 15 times.
Martin began his career by whipping off 12 consecutive 50-win seasons. Interrupted by 49- and 46-win campaigns in 1992 and 1993, he followed with another streak of 50 plus wins in seven straight seasons from 1994 to 2000.
He began coaching junior high baseball and basketball, before taking over as the head basketball coach at Tallahassee Community College. Martin spent three seasons coaching basketball at nearby Godby High School before Woody Woodward was hired as FSU’s baseball coach in 1975. Martin joined the Seminoles’ staff and served as Woodward’s top assistant for four years, then added one more under Howser.
In 1980, Martin’s dream came true and remains a thrill to this day. The winner of more games than the first seven FSU coaches combined, he has been an NCAA Tournament participant for 37 consecutive years, counting his last two seasons as an assistant. Martin has pulled on the FSU uniform in Omaha for 17 of the program’s 21 trips as either a player, assistant or head coach.
Over the course of his career he’s shared that wisdom with 187 players who have been selected in the Major League Draft, eight National Players of the Year and four Golden Spikes Award winners.
Martin’s passion for the game and working with young people makes him a popular public speaker throughout the Southeast. His involvement through the years with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes provides another avenue for reaching out to others.
In 2004, Martin was honored by the two schools he attended as an undergraduate. Wingate University, where he spent two years before transferring to FSU, bestowed upon him the honor of Distinguished Alumnus. He was also presented the Bernard F. Sliger Award for Service, named after Florida State’s 11th president, which is the highest honor accorded by the Alumni Association. In January of 2015, the Martin Family, longtime supporters of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s children’s center and newborn intensive care unit, were honored as the children’s playroom at TMH was named the “Mike Martin Family Playroom.”
A 1966 graduate of Florida State, Martin earned his master’s degree in 1971. He and wife Carol have three children, Mary Beth, Melanie and Mike, Jr., who is in his 18th season as an assistant coach to his father, and four grandchildren. Mary Beth and husband Tom Buchanan are the parents of Martin’s first grandchild Hannah Elizabeth (16) and Lexi, who joined the family in January in 2012. Mike, Jr. and his wife Litzie are the parents of Martin’s second and third grandchildren Tyler (13) and T.J. (11).
Mike Martin (1980-Present) 1980 51-12-0 .810 1981 56-23-0 .709 1982 56-17-1 .764 1983 55-18-1 .750 1984 55-29-0 .655 1985 59-23-0 .720 1986 61-13-0 .824 1987 55-18-0 .753 1988 50-18-1 .714 1989 54-18-0 .750 1990 57-15-0 .792 1991 57-14-0 .803 1992 49-21-0 .700 1993 46-19-0 .708 1994 53-22-0 .707 1995 53-16-0 .768 1996 52-17-0 .754 1997 50-17-0 .746 1998 53-20-0 .726 1999 57-14-0 .803 2000 53-19-0 .736 2001 47-19-0 .712 2002 60-14-0 .811 2003 54-13-1 .801 2004 45-23-0 .661 2005 53-20-0 .685 2006 44-21-0 .677 2007 45-13-0 .776 2008 54-14-0 .794 2009 45-18-0 .714 2010 48-20-0 .706 2011 46-19-0 .708 2012 50-17-0 .746 2013 47-17-0 .734
* Inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame January 5, 2007
* Inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2005
* All 24 of Florida State’s 50-win seasons have come under Mike Martin
* Second highest career winning percentage among active DI collegiate coaches
* Third-most wins all-time in NCAA DI baseball history
* 35 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances
* 15 trips to the College World Series in 35 years including 11 trips to Omaha in the last 24 seasons
* 16 conference championships five of which are ACC Championships (1995, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2010)
* Eight consecutive ACC Atlantic Division Championships (2007-2014) including a league record 24-win seasons in 2008 & 2012
* Produced 17 first round draft picks with 15 coming since 1990
* Coached 87 All-Americans, 119 All-ACC selections and a record four Golden Spikes winners
* Seven-time ACC Coach of the Year - 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2009, 2012
* Six-time Metro Conference Coach of the Year
* Garnered Baseball America College Coach of the Year honors for the first time in his career in 2012
* FSU has finished a season ranked in the top 15 nationally 29 times in Martin’s 35 years as FSU Head Coach
* Named to FSU’s list of 100 distinguished graduates in celebration of the FSU Alumni Association centennial