TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Seven years ago, at the conclusion of the 2011 season, Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin acknowledged that the end of his career was “in sight.”
Since that day, the Seminoles have won 314 more games, claimed three ACC championships and made two more trips to the College World Series.
And just last month, Martin became the all-time winningest coach in college baseball history when he claimed win No. 1,976 on a late Saturday night in Clemson, S.C.
Back in 2011, Martin didn’t know exactly when he would call it a career, only that it was on the horizon.
As of today, he knows.
Martin, along with Florida State director of athletics Stan Wilcox, on Monday announced that the 2019 season – his 40th as FSU’s head coach – will be his last.
Once the season is over, Florida State will conduct a national search to find its next baseball coach.
Whoever it is, he’ll be just the ninth coach in the program’s 70-year history.
“I’m glad that they want me to continue coaching next season, and I thank all our former and current coaches, staff and most importantly our players for the consistent success of our baseball program,” Martin said in a prepared statement. “You don’t win at our level without student-athletes who dedicate themselves to playing as a team and playing for something more than themselves.”
Florida State fans know better than most that there is no easy way to say goodbye to a legend.
The end of the Bobby Bowden era wasn’t always easy, and his final years were marked with constant questions about his future plans. Would he stay? Would he go? And how would Florida State handle the transition from Bowden to his successor?
Those same questions had, inevitably, started swirling around FSU baseball.
Now, with one concise press release, they’re all gone.
And the result is what seems like a perfect solution for both Martin and the university he loves so much.
Martin, set to turn 75 next year, will get to enjoy a year in which he’ll be adored and celebrated by fans, family and current and former players alike.
Along the way, he’ll pick up win No. 2,000 – he needs just 13 victories to reach that mark – and likely receive warm ovations from stadiums around the ACC and country.
Most importantly, though, Martin will get one more run at the College World Series and the rare opportunity to retire as a national champion.
The Seminoles must replace several key members from last year’s team, but they’re sure to have standout pitcher Drew Parrish and third baseman Drew Mendoza leading the charge.
For Florida State, Martin’s announcement provides clarity for the future. Wilcox and president John Thrasher have both often said that Martin can have the keys to the kingdom for as long as he wants. And there’s little doubt that, if he had come to them at the end of last season and said he wanted to coach beyond 2019, neither would have given him any resistance.
But now, with a certain road ahead, Wilcox can plan for the future and better ensure that the transition from this era to the next goes as smoothly as possible.
Finally, for Florida State fans, the 2019 season offers a chance see one of the most iconic figures in school history one last time. Or dozens of times.
How often do retirements catch fans by surprise? And how often do we kick ourselves for passing on those tickets or not jumping in the car for a weekend road trip?
Now, we all know.
For fans who want to see Mike Martin coach on the field that bears his name, 2019 will be the last time to make it happen.
So, when that schedule comes out, it’s time to break out the pen, start circling the calendar and making plans to be in Tallahassee next spring.
Time waits for no one. One day, whether in 2011 or 2019 or 2025, the Martin era at Florida State was going to come to an end.
It’s never easy to say goodbye, but Martin and Florida State seem to have found a perfect solution.
Now, the only hard part will be missing Mike Martin when he’s gone.