|Organization:||Spring Arbor University (MI)|
For his involvement in the game of baseball on a global scale, Spring Arbor's Hank Burbridge was named the winner of the 2006 ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award.
Burbridge served as the head baseball coach at Spring Arbor University for 40 years, retiring in 2004. During that time, the Cougars won numerous titles including three trips to the NAIA National Championship. In addition, they made 20 trips to the National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament, winning the title four times. During the 2004 campaign, Burbridge gained his 1,000th victory, giving him a career record of 1,003 wins and 519 losses, which made him the 40th coach to reach the milestone in intercollegiate baseball.
Among the numerous honors Burbridge has collected, he has been named to five Halls of Fame. In addition to the ABCA, he has been inducted into the Halls of Fame of Spring Arbor University, Greenville College, the NAIA, and the NCCAA.
Burbridge's talents have also been showcased for the global baseball community. In 1991, he was selected as head coach of the North squad during the Olympic trials in Homestead, Florida. Burbridge also served as head coach for the USA College All-Star Team which represented the United States in the Presidential Cup games in Seoul, South Korea, in 1992, and was head coach of the NAIA All-Star Team to the Czech Republic in the summer of 2000.
Burbridge coached the American Samoan National Baseball Team, which claimed the Southern Division Championship of Oceania in 1999. Later that year, he led the American Samoan National Baseball Team to a silver medal in the South Pacific Games and a silver medal in the Oceania Championship, both in Guam.
In 1996, he was chosen as a Technical Committee member for the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, to oversee and administer the baseball competition. In 1995, he was chosen to represent USA Baseball and the International Baseball Association as a Technical Commission member to oversee the Oceania Tournament in Lismore, Australia, for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Burbridge served on the ABCA Executive Committee and the All-American Committee. As a member of the United States Baseball Board of Directors, he served on the Senior Team Prep Committee and the Ambassadors Committee. In addition, he was a member of the Interaction Committee, chairman of the National Rating Committee, and the Past President's Nominating Committee. He was also the baseball chairman of the Midwest Region of the NCCAA and served as past president of the NAIA Baseball Coaches Association, chairman of the National Tournament Committee, the All-American Committee, and the Hospitality Committee.
The NAIA recognized Burbridge as the National Coach of the Year in 2004 and the recipient of the Robert E. Smith Achievement Award in 2004, which honors those who have given of themselves in an unselfish manner to the promotion of NAIA baseball and have distinguished themselves in the sport.The NAIA also named an award in his honor – the Hank Burbridge Champion of Character Award.
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.