BEAUMONT — For the better part of 38 years, head coach Jim Gilligan has been the face of the Lamar University Baseball. The skipper has been around and influenced the program since his playing days back in 1967, but alongside his wife LaVerne, Gilligan announced his plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2016 season during a press conference Monday afternoon in the Dauphin Athletic Complex.
Gilligan, who is a former pitching ace for Lamar University from 1967-68, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Bill Vincent in 1970 after a brief stint in Detroit’s Class-A affiliate in New York.
In 1972, he took his first head coaching job and led Western New Mexico to a 10-10 record. After one year, his alma mater came calling; he answered and took over as head coach in 1973. Other than a brief stint as a professional club coach from 1987-1991, he’s been the skipper since.
“We are extremely grateful for all that Jim has done for Lamar University, the athletics department and especially the baseball program,” said Director of Athletics Jason Henderson. “Jim’s passion for Lamar University and baseball is unmatched.
“The mark that he has left on collegiate baseball and Lamar University will never be forgotten,” he said. “We are excited to celebrate his career this upcoming season and look forward to a great 2016 campaign.”
Just last season, he accomplished something that only 18 coaches in the history of the NCAA did before him, attain 1,300 career wins. That win came in a 7-6 season-opening victory over New Mexico State, and by the end of the season Gilligan claimed with 1,320 wins. His career record stands at 1,320-875-1, and all but two of Lamar’s 12 conference championships were won under Gilligan’s tutelage.
Counting his playing and graduate assistant days, he has faithfully served Lamar for more than 40 years and has seen nearly every Cardinal win. As a head coach, he as accounted for a staggering 29 30-win seasons, eight 40-win seasons and one 50-win season. His 1981 squad set a school record for wins in a season at 54.
“It’s time. I’ve coached here for six decades. If I go seven decades, I’ll just feel old,” said Gilligan with a chuckle. “I’m going to miss working with the players. I like watching the development of players. I don’t have plans for what I’ll do yet, but I’m sure I’ll do something targeted that way.