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Arkansas State names Raffo New Head Coach

JONESBORO (7/1/08) – Arkansas State University Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee announced Tuesday that Tommy Raffo has been named head coach of the Red Wolves baseball team.

“We are extremely pleased to hire a coach with the background and experience of competing at the highest level that Tommy Raffo brings,” said Lee. “We had an extremely strong pool of candidates for this position, and feel that Coach Raffo was unquestionably the best fit to take over the Arkansas State baseball program. Tommy is highly respected in the coaching field for his integrity and for his superior knowledge of the game.”

Raffo becomes the fifth head coach in the history of the ASU baseball program after serving as an assistant coach at Mississippi State for the past 15 years. During his time at Mississippi State, he served as the hitting and outfield coach for a Bulldog program that made three trips to the College World Series. Under his direction, the Bulldogs posted a team batting average of .300 or better in eight of the past 11 seasons.

Arkansas State Chancellor Dr. Robert Potts said that Raffo is an excellent choice to take over as head coach of the Red Wolves.

“We are delighted to have a person with Coach Raffo’s experience and background to be our head coach,” said Potts. “The experience he has gained during both his coaching and playing career give him all the tools needed to be highly successful at ASU, and we are thrilled that both he and his wife Paula will be joining us. I truly believe that Coach Raffo and Arkansas State make an excellent match.”

During his 15 seasons at Mississippi State, Raffo served as the recruiting coordinator for the Bulldog baseball program, landing 10 straight recruiting classes ranked in the top 33 nationally by Collegiate Baseball. He coached seven All-America players and four Academic All-Americans. He was named as the 2007 Southeastern Conference Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year, and during his time at MSU, 49 Bulldogs were chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft.

“My family and I are extremely excited about this opportunity,” said Raffo. “Since my first visit, I was impressed by the campus, by the city of Jonesboro, but most importantly, by the people. There is an energy at Arkansas State that I did not expect. What a special time for ASU baseball. Every person I meet is enthusiastic about the leadership on campus and the direction our baseball program is headed. I can’t wait to lead and be a part of it.”

Raffo’s outstanding recruiting at MSU paid dividends for the program as he helped the Bulldogs reach the SEC Tournament 12 times, with two championships to their credit. Mississippi State also made 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament during Raffo’s time with the program, winning five regional titles. The Bulldogs made three appearances in the NCAA Super Regionals and advanced to the College World Series in 1997, 1998 and 2007. Raffo coached one Johnny Bench Award winner, given annually to the top college catcher in the country, and helped seven hitters finish the season in the SEC’s top five batting averages.

As a player, Raffo was co-captain of the 1990 Mississippi State team that advanced to the College World Series. He was a two-time Academic All-American and a three-time Academic All-SEC selection. He was named first-team All-SEC in 1989 and 1990, and in 1990 earned second-team All-America honors from both the American Baseball Coaches Association and Baseball America.

After earning his Bachelor’s of Business Administration Degree from Mississippi State in 1990, he was chosen by the Miami Miracle with the first pick of the eighth round in the 1990 MLB Draft. While playing in the Reds organization, he was the MVP of the 1991 South Atlantic League All-Star Game, and was Co-Captain of the 1992 Midwest League Champion Cedar Rapid Reds.

A native of Orange Park, Fla., Raffo is married to the former Paula Hawkins of Calhoun City, Miss., and they are the parents of two daughters, Claudia Elizabeth, 12, and Anna Winifred, 10 and a son, Thomas Hanniford “Ford”, born in July 2007.

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