Dick Cooke, Davidson Wildcats

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Dick Cooke is in his 27th season as head coach of the Davidson Wildcats. In the Atlantic 10 Conference baseball tournament, the Wildcats emerged from the losers’ bracket and swept a doubleheader from top-seeded Virginia Commonwealth on the final day to win the school’s first title in the program’s 115-year history. The Wildcats will make their NCAA Tournament debut by playing in the Chapel Hill Regional and facing the host North Carolina Tar Heels.

Cooke has also served as the Senior Men’s Administrator for the past 12 years, began a three-year appointment as the chair of the NCAA Baseball Rules committee in 2012, and has coached for USA Baseball.

No other coach in Davidson history has coached as many games as Cooke. During his tenure, Cooke has compiled 554 wins through last weekend’s A-10 Tournament. He coached in his 1,000th game during the 2009 season and recorded his 500th win with the Wildcats on March 6, 2016, against Lafayette College. Ten of Cooke’s Davidson players have been selected in the Major League Baseball draft, including left-handed pitcher Chris Lamb (11th round, 346th overall by the Oakland A’s) and right-handed pitcher Andy Bass (18th round, 570th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays) after the 2011 season.

In 2016, the Wildcats made a historic run in the Atlantic 10 Championship, playing as the first-ever No. 6 seed to complete for the A-10 title in league history. Davidson knocked off No. 3 Saint Joseph’s and No. 2 VCU, before falling to top-seeded Rhode Island. The 2016 squad posted a season record of 28-26 and 11-11 in the league to finish with 28 wins for the third consecutive season. Two Wildcats were named to the All-Atlantic 10 first team, along with two more to the Atlantic 10 All-Academic squad.

In 2015, the program’s inaugrual season in the Atlantic 10 Conference, Cooke led his squad to a 28-22 overall record and a 14-10 record in the league, which was good for a No. 4 seed in the tournament. Davidson rallied to the semifinals as it upset No. 1-seed Saint Louis and No. 6-seed George Washington, before falling to No. 2-seed Rhode Island.

Cooke’s most successful season came in 2014, where he led Davidson to program records for overall wins (29), Southern Conference wins (17) and modern-era winning percentage (.604). The ‘Cats finished second in the SoCon for the first time since 1987, despite being picked last in the coaches’ preseason poll. A record six Wildcats were named to the 2014 All-Southern Conference Baseball teams, highlighted by Forrest Brandt earning co-player of the year honors from the league’s coaches. Four were first team selections, tying a Davidson record set in 1987.

The SoCon’s coaches and media recognized the accomplishments by naming Cooke the Coach of the Year.

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).