Steve Smith is in his 19th season as head coach of Baylor's baseball program. In his first 18 years, Smith guided Baylor to its most successful 10-year run in the program's history and a 2005 College World Series appearance, and he became Baylor's all-time wins leader in all sports. Smith also served as 2008 president of the American Baseball Coaches Association and head coach of the 2005 USA Baseball National Team.
A 2006 Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Smith has compiled a 668-432-1 career record, all at Baylor. He holds the second-best winning percentage (.607) of any coach with at least five years experience leading the Baylor program.
Smith passed his predecessor Mickey Sullivan (649 wins) for the program's all-time wins record when the Bears defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on April 17, 2012, extending their winning streak to 20 games. That streak lasted four more games, becoming the longest in Big 12 history, and it included the first 18 games of the 2012 Big 12 season, which was also a conference record for longest winning streak in league play.
In conference play, Smith has compiled a 265-213 record in 18 seasons, making him the program's all-time leader in conference victories. He's also led the Bears to three of the program's five all-time conference titles.
Smith has led Baylor to 13 NCAA Regional appearances, four NCAA Super Regional appearances and one College World Series. With 13 NCAA Regional appearances since 1998, Smith has placed Baylor on a list with only 13 other teams. He also has coached 16 All-America selections and eight USA Baseball National Team members while at Baylor.
The second most-tenured head coach in the Big 12 Conference, Smith has led Baylor to a 247-183 league record in the conference's 16-year history; that .574 winning percentage ranks second in the conference. Baylor joins Oklahoma as the only schools to appear in every Big 12 Tournament.
An accomplished pitching coach, Smith has tutored eight pitchers in the last 16 years who were selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. He also has coached at least one all-conference pitcher in each of the last 18 seasons. In 1999, under Smith's tutelage, right-hander/designated hitter Jason Jennings won the Golden Spikes Award as the best player in college baseball and was the 16th overall pick by the Colorado Rockies. In fact, Jennings claimed every national player of the year award that season, becoming the first unanimous national player of the year in Division I history.
Since the inception of the Big 12, Baylor has produced 81 Major League Baseball draft selections. In 2005, the Bears produced a school-record nine draftees to rank third nationally in number of players drafted. Included in that group was right-handed pitcher Mark McCormick, a first-round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals.
In Smith's 18 years as head coach, the Bears have produced 16 All-Americans, including two-time honoree Jennings, 12 CoSIDA Academic All-American honorees, one CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, 46 first-team all-conference performers, 10 freshman All-Americans and four conference players of the year. Baylor has placed 94 players on the Big 12 Academic All-Conference first team in the conference's first 16 seasons, 20 more than any other program.
Off the field, Smith's teams have maintained a high standard of excellence in the classroom and in the community. In 2007, Baylor was one of 30 Division I programs and the only Big 12 school to receive a Public Recognition Award from the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program for having an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score among the nation's top 10 percent. The Bears' APR was 983 with an adjusted squad size mark of 992. The baseball team was Baylor's only program so honored.
The names of Baylor baseball players regularly appear on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll, the Baylor Dean's List and on national academic awards lists. The 2009 squad posted the highest team GPA of any Baylor baseball team in school history during the 2008 fall semester.
Additionally, the Bears are actively involved in service projects both on campus and in the Waco community. However, the program's service also reaches beyond Central Texas. In October 2008, the team and staff spent a weekend in League City, Texas, doing Hurricane Ike relief work with Christians Organized for Relief Efforts. Just one month before the start of the 2010 season, the entire team went on a six-day humanitarian trip to Cuba.
Smith's 2012 team made history in a number of ways, most notably when it was ranked No. 1 nationally for the first time in program history, in the April 23, 2012, edition of the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Bears also had four All-Americans for the first time in program history (Trent Blank, Josh Ludy, Josh Turley, Logan Vick), and Baylor broke Big 12 records with a 24-game overall winning streak and an 18-game conference winning streak. The Bears came up one win shy of tying the school record for wins in a season and earning a fourth trip to the College World Series.
Smith was named Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year for the fifth time and picked up ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Years honors, as the 2012 Bears finished 49-17 and ranked in the top 10 of every major national poll. Baylor hosted the Waco Regional, and after dropping the opening round game against Oral Roberts, the Bears bounced back to win four consecutive elimination games in three days to claim the regional championship.
As the No. 4 national seed, Baylor hosted Arkansas for the Waco Super Regional, and after a win in game one, the Bears were one win away from a trip to Omaha. With a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning, a potential double-play grounder was bobbled, and Arkansas rallied back to win the game and force a decisive game three. Neither team could scratch across a run until Arkansas broke through with a two-out RBI single in the top of the 10th, and the Razorbacks held on to win 1-0.
Baylor's 2012 season included a sweep of then-No. 2 Texas A&M in the final Big 12 edition of the "Battle of the Brazos," with the middle game of the series played in front of 5,911 fans, the largest crowd in Baylor Ballpark history. The Bears broke school records for total (126,392) and average (3,255) home attendance, in addition to records for two- (10,798) and three-game (15,114) series at Baylor Ballpark.
Six Bears were selected in the 2012 MLB Draft, as Max Muncy was called in the fifth round, Big 12 Player of the Year Ludy went in the eighth round, Vick was tabbed in the 11th round, Turley went in the 16th round, Tyler Bremer was selected in the 27th round and Blank went in the 30th round.
Smith's 2011 squad earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Houston Regional. The Bears came within one strike of advancing to the NCAA Super Regional, but California's four-run, ninth-inning rally in a winner-take-all title game ended the Bears' season. Baylor advanced to the title game by eliminating No. 8 national seed Rice one day after knocking off Cal in the opening round. The Bears finished the season with a 31-28 overall record. It was the second consecutive season the Bears' season ended in a regional title round.
Three Bears were selected in the 2011 MLB Draft, as Logan Verrett was chosen in the third round, Brooks Pinckard went in the 10th and Landis Ware was a 44th-round selection. Muncy was also named second-team all-region by the ABCA, marking the first time a Baylor player earned all-region honors since 2006.
The 2010 Bears came up just short in their bid to earn a conference championship, falling in the Big 12 Championship title game after sweeping their way through pool play. That late-season run helped Baylor make its 11th regional appearance under Smith, as the Bears were named the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Fort Worth Regional. Baylor lost in the regional title game, finishing the season 36-24.
Baylor was just as successful off the field in 2010. Chris Slater was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American, while 10 Baylor student-athletes earned Academic All-Big 12 honors. Six Baylor players were selected in the 2010 MLB Draft, headlined by a trio of seniors in Gregg Glime, Willie Kempf and Raynor Campbell.
In 2009, Smith led the Bears to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, where they would finish third after going 1-2. Baylor opened with a 5-0 victory over 21st-ranked Minnesota, setting up a memorable game in which nearly 10,000 fans watched the Bears fall, 3-2, in 10 innings to eventual national champion LSU.
The 2009 Baylor squad also had success off the field. The Bears led the Big 12 Conference with 11 players named to the Academic All-Big 12 team, and Aaron Miller became the eighth player coached by Smith to be named a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Five Bears were drafted in the top 10 rounds following the season, including Miller, who became the 10th Baylor player to be selected in the first round when the Los Angeles Dodgers chose him with the 36th overall pick.
Smith's 2008 team started off strong, winning 11 of its first 12 games on its way to a top-10 national ranking. The high point of the Bears' season came when the Bears swept a three-game series at Mississippi State in Smith's return to Starkville, Miss., where he was an assistant coach from 1990 through 1994. Smith also notched his 500th career victory in the series.
In 2007, Smith guided one of his youngest teams ever to a spot in the NCAA Houston Regional thanks largely to a late-season run. A ninth-inning rally in the series finale at Texas A&M sparked a stretch in which Baylor won 10 of 13 games. The last three of those victories were in pool play at the Big 12 Conference Championship where the Bears knocked off 21st-ranked Oklahoma State 3-1, 11th-ranked Missouri 10-5 and Oklahoma, 7-6, to reach the event's title game for the fifth time, the second-most appearances in conference history.
In 2005, Smith guided Baylor to its best season ever. The Bears finished 46-24, reached the national semifinals at the College World Series and ranked fourth nationally at season's end, the highest final ranking in the program's history. Baylor also posted a 19-8 Big 12 Conference record in 2005, sharing the regular season conference crown with Nebraska. Smith was named Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year by The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the San Antonio Express-News and the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Baylor's 2005 pitching staff ranked 12th nationally in team ERA, posting a 3.23 mark. It was the ninth-lowest team ERA in school history, the lowest since 1977 and the second-lowest at Baylor in the aluminum bat era. Four regular Baylor pitchers posted ERAs below 3.00, led by Ryan LaMotta's 2.15 mark that ranked 26th nationally. Jeff Mandel had a 1.91 ERA in 66.0 innings; while he was four innings shy of qualifying for NCAA rankings (where he would have ranked 13th), Mandel's ERA ranked 10th in school history for pitchers with at least 45.0 innings and was the fourth-lowest of the aluminum bat era. Opponents hit just .234 off Baylor pitching, led by Mark McCormick's .184 average.
Following the 2005 season, Smith served as head coach of the USA Baseball National Team. He joined former Texas A&M head coach Mark Johnson as the only Big 12 coaches to have served as Team USA head coach. Smith, who previously served as an assistant under Mississippi State head coach Ron Polk on the 1998 National Team, led the 2005 squad to a 16-4 record during the non-championship summer tour. Team USA was 14-0 on American soil under Smith.
Smith was named head coach of the Baylor baseball program July 29, 1994, replacing Baylor legend Mickey Sullivan, who retired after 21 seasons. Smith is the 18th head coach in Baylor history. He was named the 2000 Big 12 Coach of the Year after guiding the Bears to their first outright conference title in 77 years.
In January 2001, Smith was named by Baseball America as one of 10 rising stars on all levels of baseball. He was the only person associated with college baseball on the list. In January 2007, he was elevated to first vice-president of the American Baseball Coaches Association and in 2008 served as the organization's president.
Baylor saw its 2003 season end in the program's second-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance, losing to LSU two games to one. The Bears finished the season ranked 11th nationally with a 45-23 record and set team single-season marks in eight statistical categories, including batting average, hits, doubles and total bases.
In 2002, Baylor earned its fifth straight NCAA Tournament selection and once again ranked among the nation's top 25 baseball teams nearly all season. The Bears opened the year hot and claimed series wins against then-No. 6 Southern California, eventual national champion Texas, and 2002 College World Series participant Nebraska. Baylor advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Austin Regional, the team's third regional title game in four years.
The Bears went 37-24 in 2001 and capped off the year with their fourth straight trip to an NCAA regional tournament. Catcher Kelly Shoppach was a consensus first-team All-America selection, as well as being named the Big 12 Player of the Year and winning the Johnny Bench Award.
En route to winning the 2000 Big 12 Conference title, the Bears posted a 45-17 record, marking Smith's third straight 40-win season. The Bears also participated in their third consecutive NCAA regional, hosting the event for the second year in a row.
In 1999, the Bears posted a 50-15 record and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional, also hosted by Baylor. The Bears' 50 wins broke the school record of 43 set in 1977 when the Bears went to the College World Series. In addition, the 1999 squad posted its second straight 100-100 season, hitting more than 100 home runs and stealing more than 100 bases. Baylor was one of only two schools to accomplish the feat two years in a row.
The 1998 Baylor baseball team finished the season with a 41-20-1 record. The squad broke or tied 40 team and individual records, set a Big 12 record with a 14-game winning streak and participated in the NCAA regional tournament in Gainesville, Fla. In addition, Smith was named Big 12 Coach of the Year by two publications.
Following the 1998 season, Smith spent the summer serving as the pitching coach for the USA National Team. Smith directed a pitching staff that consisted of the nation's top freshmen and sophomores to a 30-12 record with a 3.72 team ERA. The USA National Team played in the World Championships qualifier in Managua, Nicaragua, before advancing to the World Championships in Palermo, Sicily.
Smith's track record, however, cannot be measured over one season or one team. His ability to help athletes make it to the professional ranks is impressive. Since 1992, Smith has coached 83 players who have signed professional contracts, including 74 in the past 18 years as a head coach. Thirty-six of those 83 were pitchers, including first-round picks Kip Wells (1998, Chicago White Sox), Jason Jennings (1999, Colorado Rockies), Chad Hawkins (2000, Texas Rangers), Mark McCormick (2005, St. Louis Cardinals) and Aaron Miller (2009, Los Angeles Dodgers).
Smith began his playing career as a two-sport standout in baseball and football at Gulfport (Miss.) High School, where he quarterbacked the 1978 Gulfport High team to a state championship. On the diamond, Smith excelled as a pitcher. As a senior, he was 8-2 on the mound with a 0.81 ERA, earning all-state honors and an appearance in the 1979 Mississippi High School All-Star Game.
Following high school, Smith went on to Mississippi College, where he lettered in football and baseball (1979-80). He pitched 42.2 innings with a 1.27 ERA and 26 strikeouts for the Choctaws. As a true freshman, Smith quarterbacked the football team to the Gulf South Conference title and a third-place finish in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Smith then transferred to Baylor, sitting out the 1981 season due to NCAA transfer rules. While playing for the Bears in 1982, Smith led the Southwest Conference with a 1.72 ERA, bettering league foes and future major league pitchers Norm Charlton, Roger Clemens, Doug Drabek and Calvin Schiraldi. He posted a 5-4 record in nine starts, giving up only 13 earned runs in 68 innings pitched. In 1983, he was 6-7 with a 3.57 ERA for the Bears, allowing only 32 earned runs in 80.2 innings of work.
After being selected by the San Francisco Giants in the fifth round of the 1983 free agent draft, Smith spent four years working his way through the Giants' minor league system, ending his professional career in 1986 with the Class AAA Phoenix Firebirds. In his initial season of professional baseball with the Great Falls Giants, Smith went 8-3 with 107 strikeouts in 94 innings and only 16 walks. After an elbow injury limited him to only 60 innings in 1984, Smith won eight games for the Fresno Giants en route to the California League championship in 1985.
Smith returned to Baylor in 1986 to complete a degree in secondary education. He then served as a graduate assistant for coach Mark Johnson at Texas A&M, where he received his master's degree in business administration in 1989. While at A&M, his coaching responsibilities included working with the outfielders and assisting with recruiting, scouting and summer camps. During his tenure at A&M, the Aggies compiled a 110-22 record, captured a share of the Southwest Conference title and appeared in two NCAA regional tournaments.
Following his stint at A&M, Smith spent the next five years on Polk's staff at Mississippi State, working primarily with the pitchers. He also served as the recruiting coordinator and put together the nation's top recruiting class, as ranked by Collegiate Baseball, in 1994. In addition, Smith directed the MSU baseball camps that drew more than 1,000 campers each year and grew to be one of the nation's top baseball camps.
During his first year at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs advanced to the College World Series, where they finished fifth with a final record of 50-21.
Smith then guided a Bulldog pitching staff that ranked among the top three Southeastern Conference schools in ERA in each of the last four seasons he was there. His 1992 staff led the league and ranked 14th nationally with a 3.22 ERA. That staff also posted the lowest ERA of a MSU team since 1976 and set a school record with 504 strikeouts on the season.
While at MSU, Smith was also responsible for the development of three major league first-round draft picks in B.J. Wallace, Jay Powell and Carlton Loewer.
In his seven years as an assistant coach, Smith made six NCAA regional appearances and coached for three teams that were ranked No. 1 nationally at one point in the season.
Off the field, Smith co-produced a two-volume video, "The Care and Maintenance of the Pitching Shoulder," and has since released an instructional video, "Preparing for Pitcher Success." He speaks to numerous youth and civic groups each year and serves as a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Woodway.
Smith also was instrumental in creating Baylor's first baseball support group, Heart of the Order, with a current membership of more than 300.
Smith, 52, is married to the former Melinda Newcom of Fort Worth. Melinda, also a Baylor graduate, was a Baylor yell leader from 1981 to 1983. They have two sons, Ryan (20) -- a sophomore on the Baylor baseball team -- and Case (18) -- who has signed to play on Baylor's 2014 baseball squad.