Interview: Gary McClure Talks About Wins and Losses

Gary McClureFormer APSU baseball head coach Gary McClure saw his share of highs and lows during his long and illustrious career. In the following interview, the now-retired Gary McClure discusses breaking records and embracing losses.

Gathering of Experts: Good evening and thank you for taking the time out to speak with us today.

Gary McClure: It’s my pleasure.

Gathering of Experts: Given your recent retirement, we would like to discuss some of your career highlights.

Gary McClure: My second year back in 1989 really sticks out because that was the year we were able to turn this program around from a talent standpoint and getting our guys to believe they could win at Austin Peay. That is one of the biggest hurdles to get over when there hasn’t been a lot of winning. We were able to get to the conference tournament and play our way to the championship game finishing 2nd in our league. 2011 was a fantastic year. It was then that I passed Johnny Reagan as the all time leader for wins in the OVC. I’ll never forget that moment! Truly though, nothing compares to the years we were successful on the field and able to accomplish our greatest feats as a team. That’s true gratification.

Gathering of Experts: Johnny Reagan is an OVC Hall of Famer, correct?

Gary McClure: That’s right, with a 776-504-11 record. Johnny’s also one of the most classy people you will ever meet and he had many more accomplishments at Murray State. At one time he was the AD, and i believe he was both a baseball and basketball star there at one time.

Gathering of Experts: How long were you with the Governors?

Gary McClure: For 27 seasons. I started as the interim head coach in 1988. I was actually still finishing my graduate degree at the time.

Gathering of Experts: But it didn’t take long for you to start raking in the victories…

Gary McClure: My first win as head coach was in February of ‘88, against Trevecca.

Gathering of Experts: How was your first full year as head coach?

Gary McClure: 1989 – We actually had the 2nd most wins in school history with 32. We also finished 2nd in the OVC tournament that year and were 1 win short of going to the NCAA Regional. It was a lot of work, but extremely fun for the players and coaches.

Gathering of Experts: You quickly became known as one of the best coaches in the OVC.

Gary McClure: Well, it took six years of hard work before anyone ever thought that! In 1994 we won the OVC regular season championship and unknowingly I became the Govs all time wins leader as well.

Gathering of Experts: You surpassed that record easily.

Gary McClure: I won’t say it was easy. In athletics at that level nobody is going to make anything easy for you. And I definitely would not say I did it by myself. I had very good players that bought into what some very young coaches laid out for them. They had good attitudes and were very coachable

Gathering of Experts: 1994 was special for another reason, wasn’t it?

Gary McClure: Yes very, as i mentioned before, we won the school’s first championship since 1971. It was obviously my first as a head coach.

Gathering of Experts: And 1996?

Gary McClure: Many people have called the 1996 team the best in the program’s history. I can’t really argue that. We had a lot of great players who won 44 games and they took me to my first NCAA Regional as a coach. Also, when i look back at least 3 of the players on that team are in the Austin Peay Athletic Hall of Fame and close to 10 of  those players went on and played professionally.

Gathering of Experts: Like who?

Gary McClure: Third baseman Nate Manning, who was named OVC Player of the Year, and Craig Smith was bestowed the honor of Pitcher of the Year. Shortstop Chuck Abbott was a tremendous player and was the first draft pick by the Angels in 1996. We had hall of fame catcher Ryan Bennett, centerfielder Kent Brown, and RHP Mike Eikenberry, who were all selected in the draft. That team really had very good players all throughout the lineup

Gathering of Experts: After the 1996 season, the Govs kind of disappeared for a while. What happened?

Gary McClure: Well, we didn’t really disappear although everyone has some ups and downs. It just we were just finishing in 2nd and 3rd some years and not winning championships. We were still right there banging on the door.

Gathering of Experts: Fast forward to 2003…

Gary McClure: We came back into the spotlight and actually had our first 3-Peayt with  back-to-back OVC regular season titles (2003 and 2004) and a OVC tournament championship in 2005 and got back to the NCAA Regional again that year.

Gathering of Experts: Out of all the games you coached, what would you say is the most memorable?

Gary McClure: Wow, i really can’t pick just one, but the NCAA  game in 2007 against Vanderbilt was truly one of the most intense and competitive games i’ve seen or been a part of. They were No. 1 seed. We lost, but it was a fierce battle over 11 innings. Shawn Kelley matched up with David Price and he pitched for 10 of those and allowed just one run. It was a late error on what was truly a fluke play that finally got us in the 11th inning. It was an extremely heartbreaking loss for everyone, players, coaches, and fans. I would also have to say that our victories against Georgia Tech in the 2011 regional, Cal State Fullerton in the 2012 regional, and Florida in 2013, were very special. Etery championship game in our league was also very high on the list.

Gathering of Experts: Those all sound like exciting contests. As we’re sure they all were. Thank you, Gary McClure for joining us today!

Dan Sciscente on Formula One’s Best

Dan Sciscente

Dan Sciscente

Canadian entrepreneur Dan Sciscente says that Formula One Racing is a staple of entertainment in his home country and offers a rundown of the sport’s best.

Nino Farina

Dan Sciscente points out that, although Nino Farina only won one race in his career, this Italian driver is significant for winning the first ever Formula One championship in 1950. Before his time in the driver’s seat, Nino Farina was known as Dr. Giuseppe Farina, having earned his doctorate from the University of Turin, says Dan Sciscente. The well-born and ambitious “Gentleman of Turin” served his country as a Calvary officer and soldier in the tank regime before the lure of steel horses had him pushing modern mechanics to its limit.

Mario Andretti

According to Dan Sciscente, no mention of F1 drivers would be complete without noting Andretti, who is billed as one of the best performing Americans in the sport. With over 100 career wins, Andretti has proven over and over again that he is a force with which to be reckoned. Dan Sciscente points out that Andretti won the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix and today remains the most recent American to win an F1 race. A racing legend for over 50 years, Andretti is the only driver in history to win races across numerous venues over a five-decade time span, says Dan Sciscente.

Jack Brabham

Australian-born Jack Brabham began his racing career in 1948 driving midget cars, says Dan Sciscente. This former flight mechanic served the Royal Australian Air Force and owned his own successful engine shop before winning three F1 championships in 1959, 1960, and 1966. Dan Sciscente expresses a deep respect for Brabham as both a driver and as a vehicle manufacturer and designer. Brabham is the only driver in the F1 circuit to ever win a series World Championship behind the wheel of one of his own vehicles, mentions Dan Sciscente.

Jenson Button

Dan Sciscente says this 32 year old Brit won the 2009 F1 World Championship after finding an interest in racing early in life. According to Dan Sciscente, Button was only eight years old when his father, John Button, got him his very first open wheeled racing kart. The senior Button was well-known in England as a Rallycross driver in the 1970s, so it was no surprise that Jenson would follow in his father’s footsteps. Button is famous for being the youngest driver in history to claim victory in the European Super A Championship, points out Dan Sciscente.

Dan Sciscente has been an avid racing fan for as long as he can recall. This Canadian businessman says that when the Grand Prix stops in Montreal, he is one of the loudest supporters of the sport. Dan Sciscente’s favorite F1 competition car: the Ferrari. Sciscente hopes to one day own a 599 GTO.