Two with D-III school ties inducted in HOF

More news about: Ohio Wesleyan | Ripon

The College Baseball Foundation announced last week the names of the 10 players and coaches comprising the 2009 National College Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Class. It inclues two with ties to D-III schools: Branch Rickey, a player/coach from Ohio Wesleyan, and former Ripon coach Gordie Gillespie.

On this year's ballot was a new category recognizing the contributions from D-III schools and other small programs. "We are delighted to finally recognize the ‘small school' category of college baseball," said Mike Gustafson, co-chair of the Hall of Fame and member of the CBF Board of Trustees. "Coach Gillespie was the overwhelming choice of our voting committee."

Gillespie, who has coached for more than five decades, said he is thrilled to be a part of the 2009 College Baseball Hall of Fame Class. "I can't tell you how excited and overwhelmed I am to receive this tremendous honor," he said. "To be going in with such a select group of college players ... as well as my dear friend Ron Polk, who is one of the most brilliant minds in college baseball, is unbelievable."

Gordie Gillespie was Ripon's head baseball coach from 1996-2005 and is credited with getting the baseball program to its current level. During his time at Ripon, Gillespie went 236-129 (.646 winning percentage), celebrated six division titles, five conference championships, and was named conference coach of the year four times. Gillespie is currently college baseball's all-time winningest coach with 1,741 career victories in 55 seasons at Ripon, Lewis, and St. Francis (Ill.). Gillespie is currently the head baseball coach at St. Francis (Ill.).

Coming from the "Vintage-Era" category, designated for those who played or coached prior to 1947 was Branch Rickey. Perhaps best known for signing Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey was named the most influential figure of the 20th century in sports by ESPN. He played his first two seasons at Ohio Wesleyan before signing a professional contract, whereupon he assumed the head coaching duties. While playing for the St. Louis Browns, he coached baseball and football at Allegheny. Upon completion of his playing career, he began studies at the University of Michigan Law School. After his college coaching career was over, Rickey embarked on a career as a major league manager and executive and is credited with creating the concept of farm systems as well as the batting helmet.

Other nominations from in the small school category with D-III baseball ties were Tim Jorgensen, UW-Oshkosh and John Deutsh, Montclair State.