Just prior to his team’s early May series at Boston College, the Florida State University baseball head coach boldly predicted over the phone that his Seminoles would face a hungry Eagles team. “Boston College is for real. Last week, they lost three games at Virginia Tech, so they’ll be mad. They’ll be tough.”
Two days later, the Eagles would defeat the fifth ranked Seminoles, 10-7. Martin righted the ship, and after a Saturday rainout, FSU took the rest of the series. FSU now stands 39-13 (18-9 ACC) heading into their regular season ending series at Clemson this weekend.
It’s the years of coaching, experience, and creating meaningful and lasting relationships with his players that has Martin’s teams at the top of the rankings year after year. While the second all-time winningest active college baseball coach may not have yet won a College World Series, the consistency of his teams and record of his alums give Martin a unique calling card in the sport.
With 32 straight NCAA Regional appearances under their belt, Martin looks to add to that streak behind the performances of Tyler Holt and Mike McGee. Holt, a junior outfielder, is Martin’s “vocal leader.”
Junior pitcher and outfielder McGee is described by Martin as a more action based leader. “Mike is turning into a guy we can count on to get on base. He also does whatever he can for the team – he tried to go to the bullpen for us (during the May 4th 13 inning win against Jacksonville) because we were down to our last remaining pitcher.”
While both McGee and Holt will be key cogs for the Seminoles game if the team is to return to the College World Series, Martin will also rely on a key member of his coaching staff: his son, Mike Martin, Jr.
“There is no doubt that it is a unique situation,” says the elder Martin of his son’s role as Assistant Coach for Third Base and Catchers. “Mike has really established himself as a coach, and I think he is one of the best college baseball coaches in the country. He’s not my little boy anymore. He’s constantly working to improve himself, and is always the first one in the office and the last to leave.”
The younger Martin’s thirteen years on staff have erased any influence that the father-son relationship may have had on the team. “I don’t think the family aspect plays into it anymore,” admits Martin Sr. “Twelve, thirteen years ago when he first started, it may have. The team doesn’t look at Mike as my son anymore, just more like one of the most important guys on our staff,”
“He treats the guys the way he wanted to be treated as a player.”
It is not just the younger Martin that treats his players with respect. Martin Sr. emphasizes academics along with hitting, fielding and pitching. Out of all of the MLB and Olympic players he has coached over his career, one of Martin’s favorites isn’t adored just for his athletic talents, but how he was able to influence the Seminoles’ study habits.
“(Former Academic All-American) Buster Posey is one of my all time favorites, although I’ve had so many of them over the years,” Martin explains. “We turn him into a catcher, he goes on and signs his first big MLB contract, and turns right around and makes a big contribution to our program, specifically to allow us to charter flights to away games so that our team can have more time to study. Before, traveling home after an away game would be an all day ordeal – we wouldn’t be back in Tallahassee until 1am. With the chartered flights, our boys can be back in their rooms or the library studying by 7:30 after a game. That’s huge for our guys.”
With thirty-one years of FSU baseball under his belt, Martin has discovered the importance of great performances, both on the field and off.