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Legendary Coach Ron Polk Joins UAB Baseball Staff

Ron Polk

Ron Polk


Polk will be Volunteer Assistant Coach; Walker becomes Director of Baseball Operations

July 29, 2008

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —– Legendary Mississippi State baseball coach Ron Polk, the winningest coach in the history of the Southeastern Conference, has joined the UAB baseball staff as a volunteer assistant coach, according to an announcement Tuesday by UAB head coach Brian Shoop.

Shoop coached under Polk at Mississippi State from 1983-89 where the Bulldogs won three SEC championships and made one trip to the College World Series together. Polk retired from Mississippi State following his 29th season at the school in 2008. He ranks seventh all-time in NCAA career head coaching victories.

With Polk coming on board, Shoop’s previous volunteer assistant coach of three years, Jared Walker, will move to the position of Director of Baseball Operations.

“This is obviously a significant day for UAB Baseball,” said Shoop. “Coach Ron Polk is a legend in college baseball and having him on our staff will make everyone of us a better coach and everyone of our kids a better player and person. Having worked for Coach for seven years I have seen first hand the impact he has on young men. I know that our players will be thrilled with this announcement and will reap incredible benefits from being around Coach on a daily basis.”

Polk concluded his 35-year career as a head coach last spring at Mississippi State with a career record of 1,373-700-2 (.662). In his career, which included stints at Georgia Southern (1972-75) and Georgia (2000-01), Polk led his teams to eight College World Series appearances, five SEC championships and 23 Regional appearances.

As the skipper at Mississippi State, Polk recruited and coached some of the game’s all-time greats, including major league standouts Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Bobby Thigpen and Jonathan Papelbon.

“Coach has obviously recruited and developed many great players over the years,” Shoop said. “We are thankful that he will now be helping to develop young Blazer baseball players. Coach is a man who truly cares about people and our players will gain so much from simply being around this exceptional man.”

A three-time National Coach of the Year, Polk held the position of Assistant Athletics Director for Special Projects at Mississippi State following his team’s College World Series run in 1997. While in that position, Polk spearheaded a successful campaign to expand Polk-DeMent Stadium.

Shoop, who led the Blazers to a semifinal appearance at the 2008 Conference USA Championship that included a win over top-seeded Rice, was an assistant coach on perhaps Polk’s most talented Mississippi State squad ever in 1985. That club finished the year 50-15 and was SEC champion before going on to appear in the College World Series. The 1985 Bulldog club featured future major league stars Brantley, Clark, Palmeiro and Thigpen.

In his 35 years as a college baseball coach, Polk produced 35 All-Americans and more than 75 All-SEC performers, while also seeing 21 former players compete in the major leagues.

“Brian was with me for seven years,” said Polk. “He’s got a plan for what he wants to accomplish. I have always been impressed with him and his makeup. I am coming to UAB to try to help him and to try to help the baseball program here.”

“Brian and I talked, and he asked me about coming to UAB,” said Polk. “I see it as a great opportunity to help Brian and stay involved working with young people.”

In addition to Polk’s work in the collegiate ranks, the Boston, Mass. native has completed seven tours as a member of the coaching staff for the USA National Baseball Team, twice serving as head coach. Two of the teams he coached represented the United States in the Olympics.

Polk has also impacted the college baseball world through his literary work. He has authored `The Baseball Playbook”, the nation’s leading college textbook for baseball, and is featured in a recently published book, “6 Psychological Factors for Success: America’s Most Successful Coaches Reveal the Path to Competitive Excellence.”

Walker began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant for Shoop at Birmingham-Southern in 2005 and has held the same position at UAB the past two seasons. Walker was a standout player for Shoop at Birmingham-Southern from 2003-04 where he was an All-Big South performer.

Walker will assume the role of Director of Baseball Operations on August 18, while Polk will begin his service at UAB on the same day.

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