Tennessee Hires Todd Raleigh As Head Baseball Coach

By  | 

Raleigh arrives in Knoxville on the heels of a successful eight-year stint as head coach at Western Carolina. The Swanton, Vt., native is the 23rd head coach in the UT baseball program’s 98-year history.

"I am excited that Todd Raleigh is joining our staff at the University of Tennessee," Hamilton said. "We were fortunate to have an extremely talented and successful field of candidates. Todd's passion for the game, his plan to rejuvenate Volunteers baseball and his history of disciplined teams and physical brand of baseball stood out among the field.

"He and his wife, Stephanie, will be a great addition to our team as we work our way back to Omaha in pursuit of a national championship."

During his eight seasons in Cullowhee, N.C., Raleigh's clubs won two regular-season Southern Conference championships, one Southern Conference tournament title, turned in five top-three league finishes and made two NCAA Regional appearances — reaching the Regional final both times. He also was named the 2002 and 2007 Southern Conference Coach of the Year.

"I want to thank Mike Hamilton and the entire Tennessee family for giving me this opportunity," Raleigh said. "To coach at a great institution like UT is an honor and a privilege. We plan on doing great things here.

"One of the things that people around here can come to expect, is that Tennessee's baseball teams will be prepared mentally and physically to play everyday. We'll be physical. We'll have big, strong, athletic guys that can bang the ball around a little bit. We're going to play hard-nosed baseball and be fundamentally sound."

Raleigh also holds strong convictions about the importance of balancing academics with athletics and the importance of succeeding as a complete student-athlete.

"I believe that you can't ask for excellence in one area and not another,” Raleigh said. “There's a correlation between the mental discipline associated with school and the game of baseball. That binds academics and athletics. You can ask any of my former players, I don't mess around with that. We'll get after it. Academics will be a main focus area for me."

Yet another of the many strengths Hamilton saw in Raleigh was the young coach's willingness to play a highly competitive schedule against the region's top programs. Games against Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference teams were regular staples in the Catamounts' schedule during Raleigh's tenure. Upon his departure from Western Carolina, Raleigh had won three of his last five meetings with Georgia, three of his last four meetings with Georgia Tech (including a win over the top-ranked Yellow Jackets in 2005) and two of his last four meetings against Clemson.

In 2006, Raleigh's club was the only team in the nation to record non-conference road wins over a pair of College World Series teams, winning at both Clemson and Georgia.

And his 2007 Southern Conference championship squad posted a winning record against teams in the top 35 of the RPI. Upon being awarded a rare mid-major at-large bid to the field of 64 for the 2007 NCAA tournament, Western Carolina — which worked itself into a top 40 national RPI slot — was touted by ESPN college baseball analyst Kyle Peterson as featuring an "SEC-style offense."

Before Western Carolina presented Raleigh with his first head coaching opportunity in 2000, he spent eight years developing his leadership philosophy during successive stints on collegiate staffs at Vermont, Western Carolina, Belmont Abbey (Division II), James Madison and East Carolina.

But Raleigh's longstanding relationship with the game of college baseball began with a humble hitch-hiking trek from his hometown of Swanton all the way to the Western Carolina campus in Cullowhee, where he walked on to play for young up-and-coming head coach Jack Leggett (now at Clemson).

A stirring passion for the game drove Raleigh to excel as a collegian from 1988-91. He was a two-time All-SoCon selection, including first-team honors as a senior in 1991. He held the WCU and Southern Conference single-season RBIs record with 78 until 2000. Raleigh was named the Catamounts' Most Valuable Player as a senior and signed a professional baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox after graduation, playing in the Florida State League that summer.

Raleigh earned his bachelor's degree from WCU in 1991 and obtained his master's in 1994. He is married to the former Stephanie Deitz of Sylva, N.C., and the couple has three children: Caleb John "Cal" (10), Emma Grace (8) and Carley (1).

For information on 2008 Tennessee baseball season tickets or ticket packages, call (865) 974-6897 or e-mail dkose@utk.edu.

Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus