TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – During his legendary career as Florida State’s baseball coach, Mike Martin went 33 years between trips to Baton Rouge, La., with a Super Regional victory at LSU’s venerable Alex Box Stadium serving as an exclamation point on his final season.
Martin’s next trip to Baton Rouge will come much sooner than expected. Just a few months after Martin’s Seminoles swept LSU in an NCAA Super Regional, Martin will be back in Baton Rouge on Saturday, when he’ll be inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the hall’s “Night of Champions” celebration.
Martin, the “winningest” coach in the history of college athletics, headlines the class and will be joined by fellow inductees Mark Kotsay, Andre Dawson, Dave Chalk, Wally Hood, Lloyd Simmons, Billy Wagner and Dennis Poppe.
“Obviously I’m very honored to be a part of this,” Martin said. “Kind of ironic that the presentation is going to be in Baton Rouge. Didn’t know I was going to be back that quickly.”
Not that Martin minds.
FSU’s visit to LSU in June was, of course, centered around the NCAA tournament and a potential trip to the College World Series. But it also turned into an impromptu celebration of Martin’s career, as both Martin and the Seminoles received plenty of adoration from Tigers fans over the course of the weekend.
“I’m very proud to say that the people in Baton Rouge, the treatment of Florida State, was second to none,” Martin said. “I’m very proud to say that, because they never derided our players, they never used foul language at our players. They just cheered like crazy for their own team. They were great sportsmen and showed great sportsmanship. Not only their team, but their fans.”
Martin is the third former Seminole to be inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, which was established by the College Baseball Foundation and welcomed its first class in 2006.
Former FSU coach Dick Howser (1956-58; 1979) joined the Hall in 2008, while slugger J.D. Drew (1995-97) was added in 2016.
Martin has long credited Howser for jump-starting when the two worked together during Howser’s one year in Tallahassee.
“He really made me feel important, asked me to stay on as the assistant,” Martin said. “Back then, all we had was one assistant. He just made me feel very good that I would be working with him.”
Martin will enjoy a star-studded plane ride to Baton Rouge, too.
He’s scheduled to be joined by Andre Dawson, the former Florida A&M star who went on to a 21-year career in Major League Baseball.
Martin and Dawson, the 1987 National League MVP, are baseball royalty in Tallahassee. But Martin said that the two haven’t often crossed paths. So he’s looking forward to catching up.
“He (Dawson), of course, was in the big leagues for a period of time and I don’t know the last time he came to Tallahassee,” Martin said. “He’s one of those gentlemen that you’d be better off meeting with him than many people you might know that have achieved things of his capacity. He’s one class guy.”
Martin has kept busy in retirement. He and wife Carol enjoyed a lengthy Mediterranean cruise over the summer, and, between four grandchildren, they’ve always got something going on around town.
Perhaps more than anything though, Martin has had fun dropping in at Dick Howser Stadium, where Martin Jr. is now putting his own fingerprints on the FSU baseball program. The Seminoles are in the midst of their fall schedule and will open the 2020 season in February.
“I have really enjoyed going out and watching the guys play,” Martin said. “It’s an outstanding group that Mike has.”