Gordie Gillespie has captured over half of his 1,852 collegiate baseball coaching victories at University of St. Francis during spans of 24 years from 1977 through 1995 and again from 2006 until the present.
In 2006, college baseball's all-time winningest coach returned to the St. Francis dugout to replace his former assistant coach Tony Delgado, who retired upon completion of the 2005 season.
For Gillespie, the upcoming 2011 campaign will be his 59th season of coaching on the diamond, where he has amassed a 1,852-938 overall record. He is coming off a 2010 season in which he led the Saints to a 36-16 mark and a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference title for the second time in three years. Two years earlier,Gillespie led his Saints to a 42-11 record, a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship, a No. 12 NAIA national ranking and a third straight appearance in the NAIA Region VII championship tournament. For his efforts, Gillespie was recognized as the CCAC Coach of the Year and the ABCA/Diamond NAIA Region VII Coach of the Year.
Gillespie, who turns 85 in April of 2011, returned to Joliet after a successful 10-year run at Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he worked with his son, Bob, the school's director of athletics.
In his stint with the Red Hawks, Gillespie compiled a 239-130 record and led his teams to the NCAA III playoffs six of his last seven years, while capturing five league titles, including one stretch of four in a row.
An inductee into 16 halls of fame, including the College Baseball Hall of Fame two years ago, and a four-time NAIA national baseball coach of the year, Gillespie took 16 of his 43 teams to the NAIA World Series between his time at Lewis and his first tour at St. Francis from 1953-1995.
At Lewis, Gillespie produced a 634-241 record in 24 years (1953-1976), capped off by three straight NAIA World Series titles from 1974-76. One year later, Gillespie moved on to St. Francis, where eight of his teams earned a bid to the World Series, highlighted by the 1993 team that won 38 of its final 39 games en route to the school's first-ever national championship in any sport.
Overall,60 of Gillespie's players have gone on to sign professional contracts.
Gillespie, the father of seven through a previous marriage (Mike, Gordie, Jr., Greg, Bob, Margaret Mary, Billie and Jackie), made his way onto the Joliet scene in 1950, serving as the director of athletics for the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). Soon afterwards, he found himself coaching Lewis University's basketball team, which was in its second season of competition in the fall of that year. That would start a run of 107 sport seasons on the sidelines, including the 2008 baseball campaign. In all, Gillespie's teams have failed to record at least a .500 mark on only 11 occasions. In seven of those years, he fell just one win short of the break even point.
At the same time that he was building strong programs in baseball at Lewis, as attested by eight NAIA World Series appearances, Gillespie was functioning in a dual role, directing the fortunes of the Flyer basketball program from 1950-1965.
At. St. Francis, he started both the football (1986) and women's basketball programs (1976-77), besides serving as the head baseball coach, to go along with his duties as director of athletics from 1976-86 and athletic chairman from 1986-1995.
Prior to making his way over to USF to coach football, Gillespie posted an incredible 222-54-6 record on the gridiron during an illustrious 27-year stay at Joliet Catholic High School, highlighted by five state championships (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1981). For those accomplishments, he was named the head coach of the Chicago Tribune's All-Time Illinois High School Football Team in 1991.
For the record, the graduate of Kelvyn Park High School and DePaul University has captured 2,361 victories against 1,156 losses for a .671 winning percentage in four different sports.
Gillespie and his wife, Joan, reside in Joliet. Between the two of them, they have a combined total of 37 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.