Sept. 26, 2013
Meet Richmond's Tracy Woodson
By Sean Ryan
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
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
Third Inning – What are some of your first needs
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
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
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
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
(photo courtesy of UR Media Relations Office)