Dick Cooke is in his 23rd season as head coach of the Davidson Wildcats baseball program. He has also served as the Senior Men’s Administrator for the past nine years.
No other coach in Davidson history has coached or won as many games as Cooke. During his tenure, Cooke has compiled a record of 419-689-1. He coached in his 1,000th game during the 2009 season.
Last July, Cooke was appointed as the Chair of the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee, where will is responsible for leading the committee’s deliberations at the annual meeting and serves as the committee’s spokesperson.
The 2012 season was highlighted by the sixth no-hitter in team history and strong performances against No. 6 North Carolina and No. 3 South Carolina, in which the traditional powers had to battled to hold off the ‘Cats for one-run victories.
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.
Freshman left fielder Forrest Brandt also earned All-SoCon Freshman Team honors as a highlight of the 2011 season.
In 2010, Cooke coached freshman third baseman Andrew Barna to Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-America honors, just the third freshman in Davidson history to be so honored. Barna was also named to the SoCon All-Freshman team after also earning SoCon Player of the Month and SoCon Player of the Week honors in February.
In 2009, Cooke coached a pair of player to All-Southern Conference honors and had one selected in the draft. Zach Kayne was selected in the 22nd round of the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player by the Chicago White Sox, while Danny Weiss was named All-Southern Conference Second Team as the designated hitter and Drew Gadaire was named to the All-Freshman Team.
In the summer of 2008, Cooke made his second appearance in the Olympics with Team USA baseball in Beijing, where he served as an auxiliary coach for manager Davey Johnson. He also served as an auxiliary coach on Tommy Lasorda’s staff that led Team USA to the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. In those roles, Cooke was responsible for watching countless videos of opponents to make scouting reports with meticulous charts of their hitters, and being the left-handed batting-practice pitcher.
In 2005, Cooke oversaw one of the country’s most prolific offenses as the Wildcats ranked among the top 10 nationally in batting average, home runs per game, doubles per game and slugging percentage. On his watch, Jay Heafner blossomed from a .234 average with just three doubles as a freshman to the nation’s second-highest average at .448 with 18 doubles and 11 homers to become an All-American as a junior. Heafner was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2006, the fourth Wildcat in the previous five years taken in the draft.
When Davidson was still in the Big South Conference back in 1992, Cooke was named the Big South Coach of the Year in just his second season at the helm of the program. In that season, Davidson tied the school record with 28 victories. He is also the only Wildcat baseball coach to win 20 or more games in four consecutive seasons and in more than three different seasons (eight).
Cooke was the head coach and assistant athletic director at Belmont Abbey in 1990, where he reinstituted the baseball program following a 17-year hiatus from varsity competition.
Prior to joining the Crusader staff, Cooke was the assistant baseball coach for five seasons (1984-88) at his alma mater, the University of Richmond. He graduated in 1978 with a degree in journalism and was a three-year baseball letterman for the Spiders as a left-handed starting pitcher, finishing with a 12-10 record. In his senior year, Cooke went 6-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 68 innings.
After graduating from Richmond, Cooke spent three years in the Boston Red Sox organization at the A, AA and AAA levels, serving as a senior player-coach during the 1981 season in the Florida State League.
Involved with USA Baseball since 1999, Cooke first joined the staff of Team USA for the Pan American Games held in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1999, where the U.S. earned the silver medal to qualify for the 2000 Olympics. In the summer of 2003, Cooke spent two months with Team USA as the pitching coach, overseeing a record-setting staff. The Americans posted a miniscule 1.29 ERA while tossing 13 shutouts, both top numbers in the all-time annals of USA Baseball. The team also reeled off 25 consecutive wins while setting a new record for winning percentage at .931 (27-2).
Cooke then served on the staff of the Olympic-qualifying team as an auxiliary coach in November of 2003. Baseball legend Frank Robinson managed the squad that played in the Dominican Republic. In September of 2006, Cooke rejoined the USA staff as an auxiliary coach for the team that beat host Cuba in the gold medal game and qualified for the 2008 Olympics. In November of 2007, he was an auxiliary coach for Team USA, which defeated Cuba 6-3 in Taipei City to win the IBAF World Cup for the first time since 1974.
Cooke is also the director of the Davidson Wildcat Baseball clinics and summer camps. Having held the week-long summer camps for 17 years to capacity for players ages seven to 18, Cooke has college and high school coaches on staff, all of whom have extensive camp and clinic experience, and have a true passion for the game. The clinics he hosts take place from October to January.
Cooke and his wife, Susan, have been married 25 years and have three daughters, Alison (20), Lindsay (17) and Erin (13). They reside in Davidson with their black lab, Spike.
(Bio From Davidson College)