Three Reasons for Vanderbilt's Success

On Saturday Vanderbilt will compete in its first ever College World Series. How did Vanderbilt go from years of baseball mediocrity to its first ever trip to the college showcase in Omaha? Look inside to find the top three reasons in no particular order.


For years Vanderbilt played at downtrodden McGugin Field, a field which was considered by far the worst in the SEC and one of the worst nationally. It consisted of a baseball field surrounded by bleachers. However, early in the current millennium Vanderbilt supporters and administrators decided to finally upgrade the Commodores' baseball facility after a masterful effort by former Vanderbilt coach Roy Mewbourne, who had fought for a new facility.

On April 27, 2002 Vanderbilt dedicated brand new Charles Hawkins Field. A state-of-the-art facility, Hawkins held just 2,000 at the time of its construction. Former Vanderbilt athletic director Todd Turner said at the time that the university didn't expect to get much out of the over $5 million investment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks to former Commodore player and benefactor Charles Hawkins Vanderbilt now has a facility that's as fine as any in the nation. Where the previous facility was a symbol of the university's lack of commitment to baseball, the new facility is a monument to a new beginning for Vanderbilt baseball. The "Hawk" is a facility that players who are professional in caliber would be proud to play in and thankfully many now do.


Vanderbilt has ridden the backs of its fine pitchers since the announcement of the building of Hawkins Field. It started with Jeremy Sowers who was recruited by former Vandy skipper Mewbourne. Sowers won 23 games in Nashville and then went on to the Cleveland Indians organization. Tim Corbin and his staff have continued attract top pitchers with names like David Price (photo at left), Mike Minor, along with the current group of outstanding hurlers wearing the Black and Gold.

Commodore pitching coach Derek Johnson serves a key draw for the outstanding pitching talent that have come to Vanderbilt to get an outstanding education while honing their pitching abilities. Johnson is considered one of the top 3 pitching coaches in college baseball. There are 40 or so other decent coaches in minor league baseball but few that are able to develop a young arm as fast as Johnson.

A top notch pitcher has a choice; he can come to Vanderbilt and get a super education while being mentored by one of the top pitching coaches outside of the MLB or he can go to the minors, miss out on the college experience and get coached by sometimes three or four different mediocre pitching coaches in one year.

Maintaining a great staff of pitchers also enhances Vanderbilt's ability to attract top hitters, like Aaron Westlake who hit three home runs against Oregon State on Saturday. Star hitting prospects know if they come to Vanderbilt they'll facing some of the top pitching talent every day in practice and get great game experience competing in the nation's top baseball conference, the SEC.


Tim Corbin has been the glue that's held it all together since coming on board in 2003. His convincing of Derek Johnson stay on from the Roy Mewbourne's staff was a major coupe for the program. In addition to Johnson, Corbin has assembled a staff of excellent assistants that help recruit and develop Vandy's players.

Corbin (photo at right) has consistently landed top 10 recruiting classes since coming to Nashville. Division I college programs can only have 11.7 players on scholarship and any player on scholarship must have at least ¼ of a scholarship. Corbin has been a magician getting his players financial aid and enabling them to afford tuition at one of the Southeast's most expensive universities.

His strategy and knowledge of the game has enabled Vandy to win over 64 percent of its games since he has been in Nashville, second best of SEC coaches and a percentage that will surely increase after the current stellar season. Few Commodore fans will ever forget the suicide squeeze call made by Corbin in last year's Louisville Regional which vaulted Vanderbilt into its second Super Regional ever. Corbin has now coached all three Super Regionals that Vandy has ever participated in and will soon coach the Commodores in their first ever College World Series.

Corbin has also fought for several additional facilities improvement since that came after the opening of Hawkins Field. He pushed for over 1,400 additional seats and the construction of a baseball office complex along with the addition of outfield seating.

With a ticket to the College World Series in hand, the Commodore baseball program has only one other objective in order to reach the full spectrum of college baseball accomplishments. A National Championship would further promote the excellence and new winning tradition of the Vanderbilt baseball program and foster even more success. Top Stories