|Organization:||Fresno State University (CA)|
The winner of the 2000 ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award, Bob Bennett finished his 34-year coaching career at Fresno State with a 1,302-759-4 record in 2002. In his final season, he became the seventh coach in NCAA history to reach 1,300 wins. With a 32-27 record in his final season, Bennett closed out his career with 26 consecutive winning seasons.
In 2001, Bennett was named WAC Coach of the Year for the third time while making his 21st NCAA regional appearance. Prior to the season finale, Bennett became the first coach in Fresno State history - and first person affiliated with the baseball program - to have his No. 26 retired. His teams averaged nearly 40 wins per season.
In his career, Bennett led the Bulldogs to 17 conference championships, 21 NCAA Tournament berths and two College World Series appearances. He also coached 32 All-Americans and nine first-round draft picks.
Dedicated, hard working and loyal, Bennett helped Fresno State build Beiden Field into a first-class facility and was largely responsible for the Bulldogs becoming a model in the area of facilities, ticket sales, fan support and community pride. In 2016, the baseball facility at Fresno State was renamed Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium.
A 1982 ABCA Hall of Fame inductee, Bennett earned conference Coach of the Year honors 14 times in addition to being named the 1988 NCAA Coach of the Year by The Sporting News.
Considered one of the nation's top pitching coaches, Bennett was known for his fundamentally-sound ballclubs. Bennett saw more than 100 of his players taken in the regular phase of the annual June amateur draft. Of the 35 players that have played in the Major Leagues, 19 were pitchers.
Bennett, a 1951 graduate of Fresno's Roosevelt High School, graduated from Fresno State in 1956 with a degree in physical education. Two years later he earned his master's degree in P.E. from Fresno State. He moved directly into coaching following his graduation from Fresno State in 1956, taking over as head baseball coach at Kingburg (Calif.) High School. In two seasons, his teams compiled a 41-19 record. In 1958, he moved on to Fresno's Bullard High School, where the Knights posted over 200 victories in his 11 seasons.
His coaching career at Bullard was interrupted in 1967 when he was asked to take over the coaching duties at Fresno State while head coach Pete Beiden went on sabbatical. That season, the Bulldogs finished 38-10, won a CCAA title and earned a berth in the NCAA playoffs. Bennett returned to Bullard following the 1967 campaign but was called back to Fresno State on a permanent basis in 1970 following Beiden's retirement.
Considered a leader on the collegiate baseball front, Bennett is a former president of the ABCA (1987). He currently serves as a member of the ABCA's Board of Directors and Hall of Fame Committee.
Bennett has also been heavily involved in baseball at the international level, serving as head coach of the U.S. National Team in 1983 and '86 and as a member of the national team's coaching staff in 1977 and '79.
Bennett is a member of the Fresno State Hall of Fame, the College Baseball Hall of Fame and the Roosevelt High School Hall of Fame as a charter member.
Named after the great Lefty Gomez, this annual award is presented to an individual who has distinguished himself among his peers and has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally and internationally. The Lefty Gomez Award is sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods.