He’s 22 years into his tenure as president of USA Baseball. He was the founding coach of UNCG Baseball. But Mike Gaski ’73 MFA says the sport is not what drew him to UNCG in the early 1970s.
As he graduated from the University of Detroit, John Mahoney, the dean of Arts and Sciences, told him about a tremendous UNCG writing professor down in North Carolina: Fred Chappell. After coming to UNCG to study with Chappell and earn his MFA, he joined the Ohio State Baseball coaching staff – and his career took off.
USA Baseball, the national governing body for amateur baseball, selects and oversees our nation’s professional teams in the global World Baseball Classic and the Olympics. “It’s been fun. I take pride in our accomplishments. I’m proud to be an American.” He ticks off the U.S. teams’ recent successes in the World Baseball Classic “In 2017, we won the Gold medal and beat Japan. In spring 2023, we won the Silver medal.”
The Tokyo Olympics? “We won the Silver.”
The other national teams? “I’ve lost track of how many Gold medals we’ve won with our College National Team, our Women’s National team, and our 18Us, 15Us, and 12Us. We expect to play in the finals every event, and over these past few years, we’ve had great players and coaches who’ve continually met those expectations.”
He and his staff have overseen a project to standardize youth baseball bats. When you see them in the store with the “Approved by USA Baseball” sticker, that’s their mark. And now, they are working to standardize the exact size and weight of youth baseballs.
And some big news in the Triangle area: The greatly expanded USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., will have its ribbon-cutting in early 2024.
Many at UNCG know Gaski as the Spartan coach from 1991 to 2012. His teams won four conference titles. He won four conference Coach of the Year awards. He was inducted into the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and the UNCG Athletics Hall of Fame earlier this year. He was particularly pleased that two of his players – Nicky Yelverton (formerly Phillips) ’97 and Ryan Gordon ’04 – were inducted at the same time.
And what about that MFA in creative writing? In recent years, he’s had one novel published, “Magicians and Brothers,” and another is on the way.
By Mike Harris
Photography courtesy USA Baseball