My Tribute to #11
By: Jeff Gross
It was the Summer of 1999, that I walked into Dick Howser Stadium at Florida State University for the very first time to meet coach Mike Martin, who others call “11”.
On that day, Coach Mike Martin welcomed over 300 campers from across the United States, which was very impressive to see players stand up when Coach Martin called out their state and over 30-states were represented to go along with 2-3 countries that came to Tallahassee (FL) to learn baseball that summer.
Thanks to my friend Bill Hamilton, Head Baseball Coach at Pensacola Junior College, who recommended me to Chip Baker, FSU assistant baseball coach and camp director, to help work the weeks camp.
Chip, known as “Big Shooter” not due to his height, but because he was the guy that made everything happen, would introduce me to the campers.
I like to introduce Jeff Gross, who scouted with the Texas Rangers, Coached at University of Arkansas-Monticello, Scouted with Chicago Cubs, and was Co-Owner/President of Professional Independent Minor League Club, Founder of PRO-DAY Baseball and coaches at Pensacola Junior College is one of our coaches here this week, along with the FSU Staff.
That’s when I finally met Coach Martin, when I got finished saying a few words to the campers, he called me over to where he was sitting and said Jeff welcome to Florida State, I’m so glad to have you working with us at camp this week then we talked about the same baseball fraternity coaches we both knew.
He was very easy to talk to with that Southern accent draw that he carries with him, using words like “Partner” and “Daggum” and from there our friendship would begin.
The next 15-years, I had a front row seat next to him evaluating hitters at his Advance Baseball Camp, watching him speak to each hitter and shake their hand that came out of the Batting Cage on the Field that today is named after him.
He would sit between myself and the Pitching Coach getting pitching readings from our radar guns during pitching evaluations.
Future baseball legends came to Mike Martin Camps over the years. Names like Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones and JD Drew.
Later, I would get to work with and see a young talented Buster Posey, Justin and BJ Upton, along with Stephen Drew to name a few that attended Camp.
I was able to build coaching relationships thru “11’s” staff that went on to be successful coaches across the country.
One is Chip Baker, who has been beside Martin 34 of his 39-years. Serving as assistant coach for first 18-years and Director of Baseball Operations for past 16.
Chip is one of my very best friends, who was there for me along with “11” when my father passed with cancer in 2003.
In 2012, when my brother passed, Chip was right there for me making that 1,300 mile trip to Arkansas to give the Eulogy at his service.
That’s the kind of real people that “11” and Chip represent for the past four decades at Florida State University. No wonder the Florida State University Alumni Association has honored them into the “Circle of Gold”.
Martin has taken FSU to 38 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and has made 16 College World Series Appearances. He has never had less than a 40 win season as the head coach of Florida State. Also having 24 seasons with 50 wins or more. Mike Martin has been a part of 2,187 games at Florida State including playing and coaching out of the 3,850 total baseball games played in Florida State University baseball history.
Over the years, Florida State under Martin has had ninety-three All-Americans, forty-one players inducted into the Hall of Fame, and sixty-two players that went on to play Major League Baseball.
Former Seminoles who have gone on to have success include Randy Choate, J. D. Drew, Stephen Drew, Ron Fraser, Johnny Grubb, Terry Kennedy, Doug Mientkiewicz, Buster Posey, Shane Robinson, Larry Rothschild, Tony La Russa, Paul Sorrento, Kevin Cash, Woody Woodward, Deion Sanders and Jameis Winston.
When you think of “Great” Ball Players/Coaches that have had their numbers retired and that are remembered by, you think of many from the New York Yankees who head the list. If Mike Martin was a Yankee, he would follow Dick Howser, just like he did at FSU with #11.
# 1 - Billy Martin
# 2 - Derek Jeter
# 3 - Babe Ruth
# 4 - Lou Gehrig
# 5 - Joe DiMaggio
# 6 - Joe Torre
# 7 - Mickey Mantle
# 8 - Yogi Berra
# 9 - Roger Maris
#10 - Dick Howser
# 11 - MIKE MARTIN
Thank goodness for Florida State Fans that he was a “Nole” & “11” there, with the impact that he has had on college baseball and so many players life’s he has touched and coaches at all levels is overwhelming.
For the ones who know Mike Martin the coach, we still call him “11”.
In College Baseball he’s “1”. The # 1 winningest college baseball coach of All-time and maybe # 1 in college baseball FOREVER!