College baseball legend, Charlotte native Mike Martin dies at age 79

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CHARLOTTE SPORTS LIVE) — Former Florida State coach Mike Martin, college baseball’s all-time wins leader, died Thursday, the school’s athletic program announced. He was 79.

A Charlotte native, Martin was the Seminoles head coach for 40 seasons, amassing a 2,029-736-4 record from 1979 to 2019. Known simply for his uniform number “11,” his teams made 40 NCAA Tournament appearances and qualified for the College World Series 17 times, tied for the most all-time. 

Martin was born in Charlotte in 1944 and attended Garinger High School before playing baseball for Wingate Junior College for two years. He met his wife Carol at the Union County school, now a four-year university.

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He then finished his college career at Florida State and remained in Tallahassee for the next 60 years.

In addition to his on-field accomplishments, Martin is remembered for his grace.

“College baseball lost an all-time great with the passing of Mike Martin. But for all his astounding accomplishments on the field, we should celebrate his wonderful, warm, dadgum humanity most of all,” wrote Aaron Fitt, editor of D1 Baseball, in his “final tribute.”

FSU said his passion for the game and working with young people made him a popular public speaker throughout the country. His involvement through the years with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes provided another avenue for reaching out to others.

In 2004, Wingate honored Martin with the title of Distinguished Alumnus; he was also inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Another longtime baseball writer Mark Etheridge provided kind words as well.

“As a guy breaking into this sport 25 years ago, 11 was always generous with his time. Thinking back, I left every conversation happier than when it started. He just had that way about him, something all of us could use more of in our lives.”

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Martin had 20 players selected in the first round of the MLB Draft and 60 former players reached the Major Leagues. Four former players won the Golden Spikes Award — Mike Fuentes, Mike Loynd, J.D. Drew and Buster Posey – college baseball’s Heisman Trophy. 

A public celebration of life will be held at noon Feb. 10 at FSU’s Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.

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