Peterson Retires As MTSU Baseball Coach
Thursday, July 5, 2012 5:07 pm
Associate head coach Jim McGuire, who has served alongside Peterson for the past 20 years, will act as the interim head coach as the athletic department begins a national search to fill the vacated position.
“I love baseball, and hopefully I’ve taught players to love baseball,” Peterson said. “But it’s not about me. I’ve been a part of the improvement of the program. Was I the program? No, and I never tried to be. I was just an extension of it. I said this at the Groundhog Luncheon: where there’s a will there’s a way. I tried to be the will. Everybody out there was the way. The players were the way. The people that donated money and people that came to the games were the way. I just had a will for 25 years to try to keep improving the program. And it’s going to keep improving.”
Peterson began his MT career in 1988 and since has led the program to 16 seasons of 30 or more wins. In four seasons, Peterson’s Blue Raiders cracked the 40-win plateau, including a record-setting 2009 campaign where the squad finished with a 44-18 record, marking the most wins in school history. The three-time Coach of the Year will exit the profession with a 944-733-3 career record and 791-637-3 mark at the helm of the Blue Raiders.
“Today we celebrate the career of one of our departmental icons,” said Chris Massaro, MT Director of Athletics. “His personal impact on hundreds of student-athletes cannot be measured but can only be told in their success stories. Peterson has been a model coach who has won championships doing it the absolute right way. I hope now his dreams are more about his grandchildren rather than groundhogs. On behalf of all the employees in our athletic department he will be missed on a daily basis, and we wish the very best to Coach Peterson and his family.”
In addition to the numerous team accomplishments, Peterson has produced eight conference players of the year and 10 All-Americans during his tenure at MT. Many of those student-athletes under Peterson’s guidance have continued their careers at the next level, with 60 signing professional contracts, including the No. 3 overall pick of the 2001 Major League Baseball First-Year Amateur Player Draft, Dewon Brazelton. Others have taken skills and fundamentals learned at MT and are earning a living as coaches at various levels. Thirty-one former Blue Raiders are currently coaching at the high school, college, or professional levels.
Peterson’s peers have recognized his achievements and contributions to the game by bestowing several honors on him. He was named the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association College Coach of the Year in 1992, 2000 and 2009. Peterson also received his first ABCA Region Coach of the Year honor in 2009 after guiding the Blue Raiders in their record-breaking season. He was also inducted into the Rutherford County Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2007, Peterson was inducted into the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Huntsville-Madison County (AL) Athletic Hall of Fame in April of 2009. In the fall of 2010, Peterson was inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame.
Not only has Peterson been a winner on the field, but he’s also been a successful fundraiser during his career. Events such as the annual Chuck Taylor Golf Tournament, the Groundhog Day Luncheon, and the Grand Slam Fish Fry have become mainstays on calendars of Blue Raider baseball supporters across middle Tennessee and have raised thousands of dollars for the improvement of Blue Raider baseball.
Peterson spearheaded the efforts to pay for the construction of the Stephen B. Smith Clubhouse and Indoor Training Facility, which opened its doors in 1998. One look inside the facility shows the time and effort spent toward this endeavor. It has become known as one of the finest collegiate clubhouses and training facilities in the country.
Reese Smith Jr. Field has also benefited from Peterson’s fundraising abilities. He has helped transform the park into a fan-friendly area by leading efforts to expand the seating area, add an information center just inside the gate, and improve restroom and concession facilities.
Peterson guided efforts during the summer of 2001 to enlarge the dugouts at Reese Smith Jr. Field. He also spearheaded a capital campaign to do significant remodeling of the concession stand, improve and expand restroom facilities, and added a modern press box to accommodate radio, television, and print media.
While Peterson has spent 24 seasons leading the Middle Tennessee baseball program, his tenure with the program is much longer. He took two separate tours with the Blue Raiders as an assistant coach under John Stanford before becoming the team’s head coach. During 1976-78 and 1985-87, he helped the Blue Raiders win two OVC titles and four Southern Division crowns.
During the interim, Peterson served as head coach at Roane State Community College in Harriman, Tenn. While at Roane State from 1979 to 1984, Peterson’s teams won a Tennessee state title in 1981, and he was twice named TJCAA Coach of the Year (1981, ’84). Peterson put together a sparkling record of 153-96 for a .614 winning percentage.
A native of Huntsville, Ala., Peterson stood out as a catcher under the legendary Rudy Abbott at Jacksonville State. He earned his bachelor’s from Jacksonville State in 1973 and later earned a master’s from Middle Tennessee in 1977.
Peterson is married to the former Rita Albert and the couple has three children, Jill, Jenny and John, in addition to six grandchildren.
Dr. Sidney McPhee, Middle Tennessee President
John Stanford, former Blue Raider Head Coach
Jim McGuire, Middle Tennessee Associate Head Coach
Steve Smith, longtime friend and Blue Raider baseball supporter
Bryce Brentz, former Blue Raider All-American, 2009 Sun Belt Player of the Year and current Portland Sea Dogs outfielder
“He always loved the routine play. We practiced that so much, and (to him) that was the beauty of the game. When you’re young, you don’t see that, but now I realize his vision about the game was bar none, the best I’ve ever been around. I never thought this day would come. He’s a great man and a great coach. He made my experience at MT what it was, and it was unbelievable.”