Longtime Anderson University Baseball coach Don Brandon Announces Retirement

DonBrandon1 Longtime Anderson University head baseball coach Don Brandon after being with the school for the past 50 years from being a player to becoming the head coach of the program. He saw the school transition from an NAIA powerhouse into a member of Division 3. Coach Brandon will be retiring at the end of the 2010 season. You can check out the full press release below.

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

For the last 50 years, baseball and Don Brandon have been synonymous at Anderson University as a player, assistant coach and head coach. On Saturday, Brandon announced that he will step down as head baseball coach at the end of the 2010 season.

“Don Brandon has devoted his life to his family, his faith and to Anderson University through baseball,” said Dr. James L. Edwards, president of Anderson University. “He is one of the most successful coaches in all of college baseball.  Even more significant has been his devotion to his players and to their development as men of character, faith and accomplishment in their life endeavors. Hundreds of his former players will receive the news of his coming retirement with gratitude for the influence he has made on their lives.  Coach Brandon will leave a lasting legacy with Raven baseball.”

Brandon made it clear that he isn’t finished yet and will coach the 2010 season and has high hopes for his final Raven team, which returns the nucleus of last year’s 22-18 team that advanced to the HCAC post-season tournament.

“I do want to make the point that I will not step down until the 2010 team has ended the season,” said Brandon. “I love the current team and their possibilities of having an outstanding year and their chances of having a strong post-season finish and I want to be a part of that.”

Brandon has been the head coach of the baseball program since the 1972 season, amassing a school-record 1,074 victories, 13 conference championships, 12 NAIA District 21 titles, five World Series appearances (1984, ’87, ’93, ’98 and 2003) and the 1991 National Christian College Athletic Association National Championship.

“Though Don Brandon is retiring, he leaves behind a lasting and positive imprint on the Anderson University baseball program and the Athletic Program,” said Director of Athletics Marcie Taylor. “A simple mention of Anderson University in intercollegiate athletes circles was often met with a reply of, ‘Oh, you have a great baseball program.’ Don’s passion for his players, for the game of baseball and for excellence was always evident. That the success of his coaching career has spanned more than 35 years is truly a remarkable accomplishment.”

In addition to previous team honors, he has been named NAIA District 21 Coach of the Year nine times, Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times, NAIA Area VI Coach of the Year three times and NCAA Div. III Mideast Region Coach of the Year three times.

Brandon was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2002, after finishing with 644 wins in 20-years in that division. He was also inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998.

He currently ranks second on the NCAA Div. III active coaches win list behind Eastern Connecticut State’s Bill Holowaty (1,249 wins), fifth on the NCAA Div. III career wins list, 31ston the NCAA active winning percentage list (.654) and 31st on the NCAA all divisions career win list.

“It has been a blessed experience coaching at Anderson University all these years,” said Brandon. “It has been my ministry and I am grateful that the Lord planted me here at this great place. I still love what I do, but it is time. It is time for a younger coach with more energy and a renewed focus that will take the baseball program to even a higher level in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and the NCAA Division III. It is also time for me to spend more quality time with Janet and my family.”

Brandon first came to Anderson University in the fall of 1959 from Cullman, Ala., to play football, basketball and baseball. He earned four letters in football and baseball and was a member of the basketball team for three years. He played baseball under former Brooklyn Dodger great Carl Erskine and still holds the school’s single season record for fewest walks per game (0.53) in 1963.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Anderson in 1963 and added his master’s degree from Ball State University in 1967. He later returned to school to earn his Ph.D in Physical Education from Springfield College (Mass.) in 1976.

Brandon was an assistant baseball coach under Erskine for five years before taking over for his mentor in the 1972 season. Erskine took the job on a temporary basis for the 1973 season while Brandon finished his degree before taking over his current position for good in 1974.

Over the next 30 years, Brandon built the AU baseball program to one of the finest and most respectable in the nation in both the NAIA and later the NCAA.

“The main thing for Don’s whole career was to focus on the means to develop his players and that was his legacy,” said Erskine. “He was on fire for baseball and used it as a vehicle to get the best out of his players. He’s had a commendable career and how many adjectives can you say about him.”

Arguably his finest team was the 1980 team, which finished with a school-record 43 wins against just six defeats, leading the nation in winning percentage. He made his first NAIA World Series appearance in 1984 and returned in 1987 with both teams tying the 1980 squad with 43 wins.

In 1990 and 1991, he won a combined 91 games, including a new school-record 47 in 1990. But his 1991 team won 44 games and his only National Championship as they took the NCCAA title at Victory Field in Indianapolis. The 1992 team was the NCCAA national runner-up the next season.

Anderson moved to the NCAA in 1993 and the Ravens promptly won 31 games and went to the World Series in their first year, beating top seeded Marietta in the regional and finishing fifth in the championship series in Battle Creek, Mich. The Ravens went back to the World Series again in both 1998 and 2003, finishing third in the final appearance at Appleton, Wisc.

Brandon had several milestone wins along the way, including victory No. 1 over Southern Tech on Mar. 28, 1972. Victory No. 100 came on Apr. 29, 1978, against Defiance and he passed his mentor Erskine with No. 145 on Apr. 5, 1980 against Findlay.

Other milestone wins include No. 200 (Rhode Island on Mar. 16, 1982), No. 300 (Wright State on May 8, 1984), No. 400 (Marian on Mar. 19, 1987), No. 500 (Wabash on Apr. 15, 1989) and No. 1,000 on Apr. 9, 2006.

Brandon married his college sweetheart Janet on Dec. 22, 1962 and they will celebrate their 47th anniversary this winter. And they have two children, Leah and Brent. They are also the proud grandparents of four grandchildren: Cassidy, Austin, Jonathon, James, Luke and Noah.

“I can’t remember a year since I got out of baseball that Don Brandon wasn’t associated with baseball,” said Erskine. “Anderson University baseball has had only two coaches in the last 49 years and it’s hard for me to think of Anderson University baseball without Don Brandon.”

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college. In 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.