Valparaiso University director of athletics Mark LaBarbera has announced that Tracy Woodson has been named the 16th head baseball coach in the program's history and just the fifth since 1946.
Woodson brings eight years of professional coaching experience as well as 13 seasons of professional playing experience with him to the Crusader program, which was 17-34 in 2005, including a 9-14 mark in Mid-Continent Conference play.
?We are excited to have someone who has competed successfully at the highest levels of college and professional baseball be leading our program," LaBarbera said of hiring Woodson. ?Tracy has played for some of the finest managers and coaches in baseball, has managed championship teams, and has developed outstanding players. He is a tremendous addition to our staff."
Woodson was the manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League in 2004, the AAA affiliate of the Florida Marlins. The year prior, he led the Carolina Mudcats, the AA affiliate of the Marlins, to the Southern League championship, and was named a manager of the Southern League All-Stars. In addition, he was named Baseball America's Future's Game Coach for top minor league managers.
He began his professional coaching career in 1997 as the hitting coach for the Mudcats, and, beginning in 1998, served as a manager of minor league clubs in Rookie Leagues, A, and AA until his final season in 2004.
Most recently, Woodson has been to co-owner and professional instructor of Richmond Baseball Instructors, LLC, one of the nation's premier indoor baseball/softball facilities. Here he was a personal instructor for individuals as well as teams and was a head coach of AAU/Junior Olympic teams consisting of elite players from throughout the country.
?I am excited for this opportunity to coach at Valpo," Woodson said. ?It is the perfect fit for me and my family. For me it is also the perfect opportunity to work with a quality baseball program and with the student-athletes."
Woodson's professional playing career was highlighted by five seasons in the major leagues. He was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1987-1989, playing the corner infield for the World Champion 1988 squad. Woodson also played for the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1992 and 1993.
Woodson played in the minor leagues through 1996, when he was named the New York Yankees AAA Most Valuable Player with Columbus. He was a member of three AAA championship teams and a AAA All-Star in 1988 He also played in the AA All-Star game in 1986.
?I am proud of what Tracy's accomplished" said Tommy Lasorda, Woodson's manager with the Dodgers. ?He served as a member of the Dodgers with pride and will do the same at Valpo and make this program very successful."
Woodson attended North Carolina State University, where he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 1984, as well as being named a Second Team All-American. He recently was named to the ACC's 50th Anniversary Team.
?Tracy has tremendous credentials in every level of baseball, as well as other sports", Sam Esposito, Woodson's head coach in college, said. ?I think Valpo is getting a great man for the job."
Woodson will begin his duties as head coach by the middle of August.
?I am confident Tracy is going to do a fabulous job for Valparaiso as well as be a major asset for the community, Lloyd McClendon, Valparaiso alumnus and current Detroit Tigers bullpen coach, said. ?He is a solid baseball man with a tremendous background. I am very proud that he will be a part of the Crusader family."