|Organization:||Lamar University (TX)|
With a career record of 1,320-875-1 (.601), Jim Gilligan is one of only a handful of coaches who have won over 1,300 games as a college head coach. He finished his career in 2016 as the No. 10 winningest coach in NCAA Div. I history and ranked No. 13 in wins among all NCAA Divisions.
For 38 years, Gilligan was part of the baseball program at Lamar University. He was the team’s ace pitcher in 1967 and 1968 and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant there in 1970. Two years later, Gilligan landed his first head coaching gig at Western New Mexico University, but just a year later in 1973, he landed the head coach position at Lamar, a job he held from 1973-86 and 1992 until his retirement in 2016. He led the Cardinals to 12 NCAA Regional appearances.
His career at Lamar is split into two periods. His first phase spanned from 1973-86 to which he led the Cardinals to seven league championships and six NCAA appearances. He was the youngest head coach to reach the 500-career victory milestone in 1986.
When he returned in 1992, Gilligan had to revive a struggling Cardinal program. That year, he improved the Cards to a 32-21 record and followed that with a Sun Belt Conference Championship in 1993. Following that championship, he won two more league crowns, three tournament championships and made five NCAA Regional appearances.
Ten of Lamar’s 12 conference championships were won under Gilligan and the team had 29 seasons of 30 wins or more, eight 40-win seasons and one 50-win season. His 1981 team set the school record with 54 victories.
Gilligan was a six-time league coach of the year and was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, alongside names like Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Kenny Rogers. He is also a member of the Southland Conference Hall of Honor and was named a Distinguished Lamar Alum in 2012.
During his stint away from Lamar, Gilligan managed the 1987 Salt Lake Trappers of the Pioneer League that won 29 consecutive games. To recognize the achievement, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., created a permanent display featuring Gilligan’s No. 29 jersey. In 1986, as the Trappers’ pitching coach, Gilligan helped lead the Trappers to the Pioneer League Championship.
When the Southland Conference celebrated its 50th anniversary, it released five all-decade teams and Gilligan was listed on four of them. For the 1960s, he was listed as a pitcher, and for the 1970s, 1980s and 2000s, he was listed as a coach. In 2016, the Southland Conference championship trophy for baseball was named the Jim Gilligan Trophy. In 2010, the street that runs adjacent to Lamar’s Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont, Texas, was renamed Jim Gilligan Way.
Gilligan coached 133 all-conference selections, 79 Major League draftees, six Major Leaguers and four All-Americans during his career.
He is a 46-year ABCA Lifetime Member.