AUBURN, Ala. – The Auburn baseball coaching staff has been finalized with the addition of pitching coach Steve Smith, head coach Butch Thompson announced Friday.
Smith comes to The Plains with a pedigree that includes 21 years of collegiate head coaching experience and an additional eight years of experience as an assistant coach.
The winningest coach in the history of Baylor Athletics, Smith won 744 games during his 21-year tenure with the Bears. He turned in 16 seasons of 30 or more wins and six campaigns with 40 or more, including a program record 50 wins in 1999. Additionally, the Bears’ five winningest seasons came under Smith’s guidance.
Smith also served as the head coach for the USA Baseball National Team in 2005 and was the national team’s pitching coach in 1998.
“I’ve known Steve for a long time,” Thompson said. “For him to be the head coach at Baylor for 21 years speaks for itself. Steve brings a ton of experience, is a proven coach who has had multiple first-round pitchers, has led a team to the College World Series and relates well to players. On top of his coaching achievements, we’re getting a better person. I’m excited about the impact he’s going to make. He’s not only going to help develop our players, he’s going to help our staff. He’s going to help me become a better head coach. We’re getting the total package.”
Smith took his Baylor teams to 13 NCAA Regionals, four Super Regionals and culminated the 2005 season with the program’s first berth in the College World Series since 1978. He also claimed a trio of Big 12 Conference Championships, including Baylor’s first outright championship in more than 75 years during the 2000 season.
A five-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, Smith was named the 2012 Midwest Region Coach of the Year. He served as the President of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) in 2008 and was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
“This is a great time to be at Auburn,” Smith said. “I’m excited to be a part of Butch’s staff and have the opportunity to work with some outstanding young men.”
Player development has been Smith’s forte as he not only coached 17 All-Americans, but also guided Jason Jennings to the 1999 Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Award and Rotary Smith Award as the best player in college baseball. Jennings also became the first consensus Division I National Player of the Year, and Kelly Shoppach earned the Johnny Bench Award as the top collegiate catcher in 2001.
Smith has had 72 former players selected in the MLB Draft with eight pitchers hearing their names called in the first round. Additionally, 13 of his former players have achieved their dreams of reaching the Big Leagues.
Smith’s players also have a history of excelling in the classroom as he has mentored 14 Academic All-Americans, 39 Academic All-District honorees and 159 Academic All-Big 12 selections.
After beginning his playing career as a dual-sport athlete — quarterback and pitcher — at Mississippi College from 1979-80, Smith completed his collegiate days as a two-year letterwinner at Baylor from 1982-83 and led the Southwest Conference in ERA (1.72) in 1982. He went on to be selected by the San Francisco Giants in the fifth round of the 1983 MLB Draft and spent the next four seasons in the Giants’ organization, making his way up to the AAA level at the end of the 1986 season.
Smith’s coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M from 1988-89, and he earned his first full-time position as an assistant coach at Mississippi State from 1990-94, where he helped lead the Bulldogs to the 1990 College World Series. He then went on to spend the aforementioned 21 seasons at Baylor from 1995-2015 and most recently served as an assistant coach at Santa Clara University a season ago.
Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Education at Baylor in 1986 and went on to earn his Master of Business Administration at Texas A&M in 1989.
A native of Gulfport, Miss., Smith and his wife, Melinda, have two sons, Ryan and Case. Ryan is a graduate assistant coach for the Angelo State football team. Case is the Director of Recreation Ministries at First Baptist Church Woodway in Waco, Texas, where he and his wife, Danelle, live.