Wade Steinlage, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
OSKALOOSA – William Penn Head Baseball Coach Mike Laird has had a storied career and last weekend he added another accomplishment to his jaw-dropping list after winning his 1,000th career game.
Laird, who now owns a 1,000-565-3 record (.639) in 37 years as the captain of the Statesmen diamond squad, is the seventh active NAIA skipper to hit the mark.
“I have been extremely fortunate all these years to have had tremendous support from family and the WPU administration, as well as the hundreds of great players and assistant coaches,” Laird said after last Saturday’s 9-2 win over Clarke, which secured win #1,000.
During his tenure, Laird has guided the Statesmen to 10 league titles and 21 postseason tournaments, headlined by a trip to the NAIA World Series in 2004. The navy and gold ranked fourth in NCAA Division III in winning percentage in the 1990s.
Entering this spring, Laird has coached 122 all-conference players, 22 All-Americans, and 11 conference MVPs. A total of 50 former players have been drafted and/or signed to professional contracts and three pitchers have made it to the majors. He has been named conference Coach of the Year nine times and has been recognized by the IHSBCA and ABCA, most recently being named NAIA Region VII Coach of the Year in 2004. He was also an NAIA Coach of the Year finalist in 2004.
With regards to wins, of his 36 previous squads, 31 of them tallied at least 20 triumphs. Thirteen crews amassed at least 30 victories with three eclipsing the 40-win plateau. The 2004 team broke the program record with 48 victories. Inside conference play, the Laird’s Statesmen have collected a total of 456 league wins with a .585 winning clip.
“Coach Laird is one of the most dedicated and loyal coaches you will ever find in the world of collegiate athletics; he is a William Penn Statesmen through and through,” William Penn Athletics Director Nik Rule said. “1,000 wins is incredible and he would be the first person to give all the credit to his players and coaches over the years, which is a true testament of his character. We are so proud of him and this amazing accomplishment that shows sustained success and tireless dedication over a long period of time.”