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Longtime FSU baseball coach Mike Martin dies at 79

He won an NCAA Division I record 2,029 games in 40 seasons at Florida State, getting to the College World Series a record-tying 17 times.
 
Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin tips his hat to spectators following a College World Series game against Texas Tech in 2019 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin tips his hat to spectators following a College World Series game against Texas Tech in 2019 in Omaha, Nebraska. [ NATI HARNIK | AP ]
Published Feb. 1|Updated Feb. 1

TALLAHASSEE — Mike Martin, a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame who won an NCAA Division I record 2,029 games in 40 seasons as Florida State’s baseball coach, died Thursday after a three-year battle with dementia. He was 79.

The school announced Martin’s death on social media.

Martin was the head coach at Florida State from 1980 through 2019, getting to the College World Series a record-tying 17 times in that span — including his first and last seasons in Tallahassee. The Seminoles finished second twice at the CWS and third on three other occasions under Martin, who never won a national title.

He passed Texas’ Augie Garrido as the NCAA wins leader on May 5, 2018, when Florida State beat Clemson 3-2. That was win No. 1,976 for Martin; he would add 53 more to the total before retiring after the 2019 season.

“I want to be remembered as a guy that did it right, that put education first, that made sure that guys understood what’s expected of them, that they’re coming to Florida State to get a degree first,” Martin said on June 19, 2019, when his career ended with a CWS loss to Texas Tech in Omaha, Nebraska.

“We’re not a school that just wants baseball players. We’re a university that demands that you do what you’re supposed to do in the classroom, and that’s give it your best shot. I want to be remembered as a guy that played the game hard but made others around him feel good when they whipped my fanny.”

Martin won the Atlantic Coast Conference’s coach of the year award seven times and coached a slew of players who would become Major League Baseball standouts — among them Buster Posey, Deion Sanders, Stephen Drew, J.D. Drew and Doug Mientkiewicz.

A native of North Carolina, Martin graduated from Florida State in 1966, spent three seasons as a minor-league player and got his first coaching job in 1970 — as the basketball coach at Tallahassee Community College.

He returned to the Seminoles as an assistant for the baseball program in 1975 and never left. Martin became head coach for the 1980 season and was wildly successful, winning at least 40 games in all 40 of his FSU seasons, at least 50 games in 24 of those seasons and reached the 60-win mark twice in his tenure.

Martin is survived by his wife of 59 years, Carol; children Mike Jr., Melanie and Mary Beth; and grandchildren Hannah Elizabeth, Tyler, Thomas Joseph and Lexi.

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