TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Some people trace their love for Florida State back to their undergraduate years. Others might recall their memories of seeing the Seminoles football team rise to national prominence in the 1980s and 90s. And for others, a lifelong affection for FSU might stretch back generations – to parents or grandparents who passed down their love of all things garnet and gold.
Mike Martin Jr. was practically born into it, and he’s been a Seminole for his entire life.
A Tallahassee native, FSU graduate, former FSU baseball player and, for the last 22 seasons, assistant coach under his legendary father, Mike Martin Jr. is officially the newest head coach of the Florida State baseball team.
Martin’s appointment came Friday afternoon, a little more than 24 hours after he and the Seminoles returned home from their latest trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. He is the ninth head coach in program history, and, of course, the first since his father took over in November 1979.
“We are very excited to have Mike Martin Jr. leading our baseball program into the future,” FSU athletics director David Coburn said in a prepared statement. “His commitment to, passion for and experience with the Seminole program are second to none.”
Indeed, in an era of college athletics in which players and coaches are constantly on the move, and in which concepts like loyalty and continuity are sometimes feel outdated, Martin’s appointment reflects FSU’s commitment to maintaining the culture, values and, yes, family atmosphere that have made its baseball program one of the nation’s elite for the last 40 years.
Martin grew up in Dick Howser Stadium, played there as the Seminoles’ catcher from 1993-95 – he earned All-America honors in 1994 – and, after three years in minor league baseball, returned to serve as an assistant in 1998.
He’s been here ever since.
“It’s been a privilege to serve at this great university for the past 22 years,” Martin said. “And I’m excited to extend FSU’s 70-year history of success moving forward.”
That Martin is FSU’s next coach seems to come as little surprise, both locally and nationally.
Given the length of his service, as well his ties to his father, Martin was always going to be a formidable candidate.
But remove his last name from the equation and focus solely on his resume, and it’s clear that Martin is no less an attractive choice.
Take all that, then factor in his comprehensive understanding of Florida State, its baseball program and the areas that the Seminoles must recruit to be successful, and Martin becomes an even more obvious choice.
“For more than two decades as an assistant coach,” FSU president John Thrasher said, “(Martin) has shown he is a talented recruiter, passionate competitor and respected mentor to our student-athletes.”
And while Martin of course shares a name with his famous father, anyone who has spent even a few minutes with him knows that the younger Martin is his own man – with his own personality, philosophies and beliefs in how things should be done.
He no doubt had a heavy influence over the program, but if there were any disagreements between father and son – and there have been plenty, believe it or not – dad always held the trump card.
As Martin put it in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat last week: “The assistant coach makes suggestions. And now you make decisions. I am excited to make the decisions.”
One other thing about Martin? He wants to win. Badly.
After the Seminoles finished their season in Omaha, Martin Sr. joked that Carol Martin, his wife and junior’s mother, “raised a young man that doesn’t like to lose. At all.”
Which means that Martin has at least one very big thing in common with his father: He wants Florida State to win a baseball national championship, and, as has been the case for the last 22 years, he’ll be relentless in his pursuit of it.
And he’ll have complete control in deciding the best way to do so.
“While Mike Martin Jr. brings his own strengths and style of coaching to the program,” Thrasher said, “his values, integrity and love for this university will carry on the proud legacy of his father.”