Sept. 26, 2013


Meet Richmond's Tracy Woodson

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder @collbaseball


Twenty-five years ago, Tracy Woodson was a part of baseball history when Kirk Gibson deposited a Dennis Eckersley offering into the seats at Dodger Stadium to give Los Angeles a Game 1 World Series win over Oakland. Woodson led the charge of Dodgers to mob Gibson at home plate, and Los Angeles went on to earn a World Series ring.


Today, he is back in his hometown of Richmond, Va., as the new coach of the University of Richmond.


Woodson’s road home has been well-traveled. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 1984 at NC State before being drafted by the Dodgers in the third round. He played in 215 Major League games and had 506 at-bats, before coaching in Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A ball over eight years. He then guided Valparaiso, leading the Crusaders to back-to-back NCAA appearances to cap his seven seasons.


First Inning – What does it mean for you to be coaching in your hometown?

It means an awful lot to be back home. Family and friends being able to be a part of what I do on a daily basis is huge. Knowing a number of local coaches will also help in the process.


Second Inning – In addition to coaching near friends and family, what attracted you to Richmond?

The opportunity to coach at another tremendously strong academic school as well as being able to run a program that is in an area of pretty good weather year-round. Richmond was a Top 25 program in the 90s, and I do not see why it can’t be now.


Third Inning – What are some of your first needs to address?

We are getting a late start with recruiting so that has become the first priority. Changing the attitude and culture to how the coaches want things done. Getting the alumni and community back involved is also a major priority.


Fourth Inning – What do you remember about Richmond from growing up there, and how has it changed?

The main thing growing up and coming to this University were the athletic events at the Robins Center and Pitt Field. I never really went through the actual campus. What a mistake that was because this campus is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. What a selling point!! The new football stadium and the upgrades to the Robins Center are also very exciting.


Fifth Inning – What were some of the keys to building Valpo into a two-time NCAA participant, and will you follow the same blueprint at Richmond?

I believe Valpo was a complete rebuilding process from the ground up. That is not the case at Richmond. The support from the entire University makes this very appealing. Building a championship team begins with the players you bring in and having them buy into your philosophy and my expectations of them.


Sixth Inning – What was your fondest baseball memory coaching the Crusaders?

Winning our first conference championship in 44 years. That was a huge hurdle for the program.


Seventh Inning – You juggled a lot while at Valpo – taking classes and officiating college basketball games in addition to coaching. What was that like? Will you still officiate hoops games now that you’re at Richmond?

I put my priorities in order. My family and wife understood exactly what needed to be done and they made great sacrifices for this to work. I plan on refereeing a very limited schedule this year.


Eighth Inning – How does your managerial experience in the minor leagues influence you as a college coach?

There is not a game situation that I have not seen before. It does not come from my managing days in pro ball but also my playing days. As a player I was preparing myself for coaching after I was done. I was being mentored and taught by some of the best in the history of baseball (Lasorda and Torre).


Ninth Inning – We’re approaching the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and the Dodgers winning the 1988 World Series. What made that team so special, and when did it know that it could be the best in baseball?

There is no doubt that our team chemistry was a major factor in us winning. We did not necessarily have all the best players, but the guys all knew their roles. We had tremendous leadership on and off the field. Being part of that leads me to what I do when I build a program. There is no doubt that this was what we did at Valpo and what I plan to do at Richmond.

(photo courtesy of UR Media Relations Office)