Former University of Tulsa baseball coach Gene Shell said he's happy college baseball is gaining more recognition these days.
"We were close to setting an NCAA national record for attendance by drawing 6,500 fans for one game back in 1969, and now they're drawing 11,000 for one Big Eight tournament game with OU and OSU," Shell said.
"Every year I coached I was about $75,000 in the hole by giving out 15 scholarships. There wasn't any way to make that up. Now they don't have to live and die off other sports as much."
Shell, 52, coached TU baseball for 15 years, compiling a 478-199 record. His 1969 and '71 teams advanced to the College World Series, but the Golden Hurricane dropped baseball in the spring of 1981.
"Back then only one team from each conference went to the playoffs, and they had just a handful of at-large berths," Shell said. "Now two or three teams from the Big Eight go. It's easier to get in, but there's a lot more quality programs."
Shell, a Tulsa Webster High School graduate, coached high school baseball at Tulsa Edison, Tulsa Webster and Claremore. His teams won five state championships. He also coached two years at Southwestern Louisiana in the early 1980s.
"I haven't really pursued any college jobs," he said. "If the opportunity was there I'd take it. But there's not too many Division I schools that really want to play competitive baseball. A lot of them offer baseball like a campus sport.
"You usually have to stay at one college for a long time. Good college jobs are hard to come by. My best shot was Tulsa, and they folded their program."
Shell currently conducts several youth baseball camps along with former pitcher Steve Rogers, one of 12 players he coached who has played in the major leagues.
He has written a 72-page book entitled, "Bottom of the Ninth.' His original version, printed in 1969, sold 20,000 copies. He hopes the revised version, which includes pitching updates from Rogers and former hurler Jackson Todd, will sell 1 1/2 million copies.
"I don't think anyone has written a baseball book in laymen's terms," Shell said. "This book is different in that it's something you can add your own ideas. Some people think there's a secret to becoming a big-league ballplayer. There isn't. Nobody has all the answers.
"This is a book that relates to the dad, the little league coach and high school coaches. It's the fundamentals, skills and drills.
We're marketing it nationwide. I think it's going to go over big." BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 349605