Former longtime Florida baseball coach Dave Fuller dies
Dave Fuller, the winningest baseball coach in University of Florida history, died Tuesday (Sept. 15) at North
Florida Regional Hospital in Gainesville. He was 94.
Fuller guided the Gator baseball program from 1948-75, producing a record of 557-354-6 and SEC Championships in 1952, 1956 and 1962. He was selected SEC Coach of the Year all three years. His clubs also won four Eastern Division titles, and played in four NCAA Regional tournaments.
His baseball teams produced 47 first-team All-SEC players, and All-Americans Bernie Parrish (1958), Perry McGriff (1959-1960) and Tom Moore (1962-1963). Seven of his players went on to play in the Major Leagues, including Dennis Aust, Doug Corbett, William Graham, Roger Holt, Haywood Sullivan, Dale Willis and Kendall Wise.
“Coach Fuller’s loyalty and dedication to the coaching profession, and his love of the University of Florida, will always be remembered,” UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “He had a significant positive influence on countless athletes, coaches and administrators.”
Fuller was a member of the Gator football coaching staff for 29 years (1948-76), the longest run of any assistant coach in UF history. Fuller served in many capacities as head freshman coach, varsity assistant, head scout and a key recruiter under three head coaches, Bob Woodruff, Ray Graves and Doug Dickey.
His outstanding recruiting efforts are best remembered in the case of future NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood of Monticello. Youngblood, had no college offers until Fuller took an interest in his athletic skills and talked Coach Graves into signing him in 1967.
Youngblood turned out to be the greatest defensive end in school history who went on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. At his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001, he said this in his acceptance speech:
“There was a baseball coach at the University of Florida many years ago, and he saw something in a young man playing the game that nobody else noticed. Coach Dave Fuller, he’s smiling right now…I want to thank Coach Ray Graves, who was my football coach at the University of Florida for believing in a wise man—Coach Dave Fuller. He saw a potential in a football player and they made me a Gator, not just for four years, but they made me a Gator for life.”
Fuller also recruited and signed Doug Dickey out of P.K. Yonge High School in Gainesville, who became a football and baseball standout for the Gators and was head football coach from 1970-79.