Starting his 26th season as the Tigers' head baseball coach, Mike Gottlieb is one of only 34 active coaches in NCAA Division I who has coached 25 years.
Since becoming the Tigers' head coach in 1988, he established Towson as a very competitive program in four different conferences. He has guided the Tigers to 598 victories and two NCAA Tournament appearances,
In addition, 15 of his players have been selected in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Another handful have signed as free agents and went on to play professionally.
Three years ago, outfielder Casper Wells became the second Gottlieb-coached player to reach the major leagues when he made his debut with the Detroit Tigers. Now a member of the Seattle Mariners, Wells joins pitcher Chris Nabholz, who played in the early 1990's for Montreal, Cleveland, Boston and the Chicago Cubs.
At least four Tiger baseball alumni are expected to be playing professional baseball this season.
During Gottlieb's tenure as the Tigers' coach, six players have earned All-American honors while six have been honored as Academic All-America selections.
The winningest coach in Towson baseball history, Coach Gottlieb earned the 500th victory of his career when the Tigers defeated Mount St. Mary's on March 12, 2008. When he reached the milestone, he became the first Towson coach in any sport to win 500 games. He earned his 600th win last March when the Tigers beat Central Connecticut.
After 25 seasons, he has compiled a record of 625-663-8, an average of nearly 25 victories per season. To put that number in perspective, before Gottlieb became the Tigers' coach, the school record for wins in a season was 26 victories.
Since the Tigers joined the very competitive Colonial Athletic Association in 2002, they have qualified for the CAA Tournament four times, reaching the championship round twice.
Last season, Coach Gottlieb had one of his most satisfying seasons as the Tigers' coach. While guiding one of the youngest teams he has ever coached, he led the Tigers to a final record of 27-31 and a berth in the CAA Tournament.
However, that only tells part of the story. The Tigers went into the final weekend of the regular season battling for the sixth and final spot in the CAA Tournament. Facing James Madison University, the Tigers needed to sweep the Dukes while hoping that Georgia State lost at least one game to Old Dominion. In the series opener, Towson edged JMU, 8-3, eliminating the Dukes while Georgia State lost to ODU. That set the stage for two dramatic games against JMU. In the second game of the series, Towson took a 10-4 lead into the eighth inning before edging the Dukes, 11-10. In the regular season finale, the Tigers hosted JMU on Senior Day. The Dukes seemed set on ruining Senior Day and took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. However, a pinch-hit home run by Kurtis Voytell tied the game for Towson and the Tigers pulled out a 5-4 win in the tenth inning, earning a berth in the CAA Tournament.
The youthful Tigers, who set a school record with their .971 fielding percentage, went 1-2 in the CAA Tournament to finish fourth.
Towson posted a 15-15 CAA record for the second year in a row.
In 2009, Coach Gottlieb led the injury-riddled Tigers to their second winning season in a row with a final record of 28-25. The Tigers, who set a school record with a .321 team batting average, were 12-12 in the Colonial Athletic Association, barely missing out on a second straight CAA Tournament appearance.
In 2008, the Tigers overcame a 5-12 start to earn a berth in the CAA Tournament. At the CAA Tourney, the Tigers caught fire and finished as CAA runners-up. Towson finished the season with a 30-28 record, marking the seventh 30-victory season of his tenure.
A 1980 graduate of Towson, he spent two seasons as a Tiger baseball player. After graduating, he served as an assistant coach to Coach Bill Hunter for seven years.
Since Gottlieb became the head coach in 1988, the Tigers have been very competitive in four different conferences over 24 years. From 1988 to 1992, he led the Tigers to a pair of East Coast Conference championships. After three seasons in the Big South Conference, Towson joined the America East Conference in 1996.
During six seasons in America East, Gottlieb coached the Tigers to four conference tournament appearances. In 1999, the Tigers won the America East regular season championship with a 20-7 record. However, the Tigers were runners-up to Delaware in the conference tournament. Towson was also the America East runner-up in 2001.
The 2005 season was one of Gottlieb's most memorable seasons as the Tigers' coach.
The 2005 Tigers featured an explosive lineup that led NCAA Division I with 105 home runs. The Tigers finished the season as Colonial Athletic Association runners-up. En route to a 34-24 final record, Towson won 17 of its final 24 games and finished fifth in the CAA with a 13-11 record. At the CAA Tournament in Wilmington, N.C., the Tigers lost their tournament opener to Virginia Commonwealth, 6-5. But, the Tigers bounced back to stun top-seeded UNC Wilmington, 6-1. Then, they reached the CAA finals with a 5-0 victory over Delaware. In the finals, the Tigers lost to VCU again, 13-6.
The 2005 season was an amazing turnaround for the Tigers, who doubled their victory total from the previous year. Towson improved from a 17-35 record in 2004 to a 34-24 mark in 2005.
In 25 years, the Tigers have had 12 winning seasons. There have been three conference championships, two NCAA regional appearances and six appearances in conference championship games.
In addition, 15 Tigers have been drafted by major league teams, including Charlie Cononie, who was selected by Tampa Bay in the 24th round of the 2011 draft.
The most successful coach in Tiger baseball history, he runs a program where the players win games and excel in the classroom. The Tigers have had six players named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America team since 1996. Last year, Zach Fisher was the CAA Scholar-Athlete for baseball and was named third team Academic All-America.
In 2008, pitcher Jon Dupski was honored as a third team Academic All-America pick, marking the second straight season that Towson had a player named third team Academic All-America. Catcher Ryan Schreiter was honored as third team choice in 2007, joining previous honorees James Vallillo (1996), Jason Rummel (1999) and Gregg Davies (2002).
The last 13 seasons have been the winningest stretch in school history. Since 1999, Towson has won 374 games, including a school record 37 victories in 2001.
In 2001, the Tigers concluded a very successful run in America East. In their final season in the league, the Tigers set a school record with 37 wins. After finishing third in the league's regular season standings, the Tigers finished as America East runners-up for the second time.
In six seasons of America East competition, Gottlieb led the Tigers to four playoff berths and one regular season championship.
In 1999, Towson won the league's regular season title, marking the only time Delaware didn't win the title during a seven-year stretch. The Tigers, who were America East runners-up twice, had a 56-29 league record over their final three years in the league.
The 1999 America East Coach of the Year, he earned the 300th victory of his career when Towson beat Vermont, 2-1, on April 16, 2000.
In six seasons as members of America East, four different Tigers were named as the America East Scholar-Athlete for baseball. Gregg Davies won the award in 2001, joining Jason Sandner (2000), Jason Rummel (1999) and James Valillo (1996) as Towson players who earned the honor.
A member of America East from 1996 to 2001, the Tigers nearly won two championships. In 1999, the top-seeded Tigers won the regular season title with a 20-7 record. They advanced to the championship round with a 6-1 win over Maine and a 4-1 victory over Delaware. However, the Blue Hens came back to win twice on the final day of the tournament, earning their second straight America East championship. In 2000, the Tigers finished second in the league and lost their first two games in the tournament.
In 2001, the Tigers battled Delaware and Maine all season for the regular season title. Towson entered the conference tournament as the third seed with a 17-11 record. In the opening game, the Tigers pounded out a school and tournament record 28 base hits in a 20-4 win over Maine.
After dropping a 4-1 decision to Delaware in their second game, the Tigers earned a berth in the championship round by beating Northeastern, 7-6. Delaware won the title with a 7-0 win in the final game. It was the only time all season that the Tigers were shut out.
The Tigers, who are starting their 11th season as members of the CAA, have also posted some impressive success against non-conference teams during the last few years.
During the 2000 season, the Tigers posted one of the most prestigious wins in the history of the program. On March 21, Towson beat North Carolina by 9-8 when the Tar Heels were the sixth-ranked team in NCAA Division I. The win also ended Carolina's 52-game home winning streak against non-Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
In 2003, the Tigers posted another win over a nationally-ranked team when they beat 17th-ranked Richmond, 19-10. In 2008, the Tigers pulled out an 8-7 victory over No. 14 Virginia.
In 2005, Casper Wells and Shane Justis were drafted by Detroit and Los Angeles respectively. Wells, the 2005 CAA Player of the Year, was a 14th-round draft choice by the Tigers while Justis, an All-CAA shortstop, was selected by the Dodgers in the 21st round.
In 2010, Wells became only the third former Towson baseball player to play in the major leagues when he appeared in 36 games for the Detroit Tigers. He batted .323 with six doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 runs batted in.
In 2011, he was traded to Seattle in mid-season and got off to a great start with the Mariners. However, he was hit in the nose by a pitch from Brandon Morrow and went into a slump. He finished the season with a .237 batting average, 11 home runs and 27 runs batted in.
In 1988, Chris Nabholz was the first Gottlieb-coached player to be drafted. He was a second round draft pick by the Montreal Expos.
Nabholz went on to pitch in the major leagues for five years, compiling a 37-35 record with a 3.94 E.R.A. In addition to pitching for the Expos for four years, he also pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.
In 1988, Coach Gottlieb enjoyed a very memorable debut season. The first-year coach led Towson to the best season in school history, as the Tigers posted a 31-17-1 record. They went 12-2 in the East Coast Conference, finishing first in the league standings. Towson swept through the 1988 ECC Tournament, beating Hofstra and Delaware twice, to win its first ECC championship. Coach Gottlieb was honored as the ECC Coach of the Year and later earned NCAA Regional Coach of the Year honors.
Making their first NCAA regional appearance, the Tigers did very well. Nabholz pitched an excellent game in a 3-0 loss to College World Series-bound Miami in the first round. In an elimination game, the Tigers knocked out future CAA rival Virginia Commonwealth, 5-1. However, a loss to South Carolina in an elimination game ended the Tigers' season as they finished fourth in the six-team NCAA regional at Miami.
In 1989, Towson took second place in the ECC as Rider came out of the loser's bracket won the title.
In 1991, the Tigers won their second ECC championship and posted a 28-23-1 record. Unlike 1988, when the Tigers were the top seed, the Tigers came into the ECC Tournament as the number three seed and swept three games. After a 25-5 victory over Delaware in the opening round, the Tigers edged UMBC to reach the championship game. In a very tense championship game, the Tigers edged Rider, 5-4, winning the ECC title.
Making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers were sent to Maine for the Northeast regional.
For the second time in as many appearances, the Tigers finished fourth. In the opening round, the Tigers lost to Mississippi State. However, the Tigers bounced back with a 5-0 victory over Princeton, the Tiger coach's 100th career win. In another elimination game, the Tigers lost to host Maine.
A first baseman for the Tiger baseball team for two years, Gottlieb graduated from Towson in 1980. A native of Lynbrook, N.Y., he spent two years at Nassau Community College on Long Island prior to attending Towson. After graduating from Towson, he remained in the Baltimore area.
From 1980 to 1987, he served as an assistant coach for the Tigers under Coach Bill Hunter.
In 1988, Hunter retired from coaching to concentrate on his duties as athletic director. He immediately named Coach Gottlieb as his successor. The Towson coach has led the Tigers to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances as well as two conference championships.
In November of 2002, Coach Gottlieb was honored as the College Coach of the Year by the Middle Atlantic Regional Scouting Bureau.
Coach Gottlieb is single and resides in the Towson area.