Entering his 31 season as the head coach at San Diego State. Jim Dietz can look back on a highly successful tenure as he prepares for his final season with the Aztecs. Dietz has announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2002 season. And although he will finish his Aztec career at the conclusion of the season, his legacy at San Diego State will remain forever.
His many accomplishments with his teams and players were recognized by his peers when he was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in ceremonies held at the ABCA annual convention in Orlando in January of this year.
Dietz’s success with his teams on the field has been well-publicized. But the success of his student-athletes, both on and off the field, and their successes after baseball at SDSU, has been been one of his highest priorities. Over the years, he has been both coach and counselor to his players, and helped create personal opportunities for them. Although proud of his players who have gone on to pro baseball careers, he is equally proud of the many success stories of his former athletes outside of baseball.
Dietz enjoys membership in a select society of collegiate head coaches who have garnered over 1000 victories during their careers. In fact, he reached the 1100-win plateau with a victory over Arizona in 1999. However, Dietz’s tenure at SDSU has been about more than wins and losses.
In his 30 years at San Diego State University, Dietz has built the Aztec baseball program into one of the finest in the nation not only in terms of wins and losses, but facilities, equipment, scheduling, academics, and personal opportunity for his student-athletes.
He has led SDSU to its 24 winning seasons in the past 26 years and has taken his charges to eight NCAA Regional appearances. In 2000, he led his team to the inaugural championship of the first-year Mountain West Conference. In 1994, he took his Aztec team to the co-championship of the Western Athletic Conference Western Division and was named the divisional Coach-of-the-Year for his efforts.
He has a winning percentage of .621 with 1154 career victories. His average of almost 40 wins per season ranks him in the top 10 among current Division I coaches.
Dietz’s Aztec clubs have been ranked among the top 25 teams numerous times over the past two decades. During his tenure, San Diego State has been ranked as high as third (1977), fourth (1981), seventh (1982), and first (1983 and 1984) in the nation. Under his guidance, San Diego State has become a training ground for professional baseball players. Five members of last year’s squad were drafted or signed by major-league clubs. A total of 27 former Aztecs are currently playing pro baseball while numerous others are either coaches, administrators, or scouts in professional ball.
Among the major league standouts tutored by Dietz at San Diego State are eight-time National League batting champion Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres and first baseman Mark Grace of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who collected the most hits of any major league player in the '90s, plus Travis Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies, the 1998 NL Rookie-of-the-Year runner-up. Past major league players he has coached include Dave Smith of the Chicago Cubs, Bud Black of the Cleveland Indians, Mark Williamson of the Baltimore Orioles, Al Newman of the Texas Rangers, and Bobby Meacham of the New York Yankees.
Dietz began his collegiate coaching career at San Diego State in 1972, becoming only the third head baseball coach in school history. His Aztec teams have had only two losing seasons since 1975. But it was in the late 70s that the SDSU baseball program took off under Dietz.
In 1979 the Aztecs made their first-ever NCAA Division I regional playoff appearance, advancing to the finals before losing to Pepperdine. Between 1979 and 1986, Dietz led the Aztecs to six postseason regional playoffs and a winning percentage of almost 70 percent. His SDSU squad returned to the NCAA playoffs in 1990, finishing second to Stanford at the West I Regional.
One of his finest moments came in 1984 when the Aztecs won 66 games (most in the nation that year) and set a total of 10 school records.
SDSU, which featured U.S. Olympians Chris Gwynn and Flavio Alfaro, went extra innings in that year’s NCAA Regional final before losing to eventual College World Series champion Cal State Fullerton.
Dietz took the Aztecs to Western Athletic Conference titles on three occasions. In 1986, he led San Diego State to its first WAC championship as the Aztecs won both the league’s Southern Division title and post-season tournament. In 1988, his team won the conference’s first regular-season title as the WAC abandoned divisional play and went to an eight-team round-robin format.
Dietz’s 1990 team became the first squad to win both the WAC regular-season title and postseason tournament championship in the same season. After guiding his squad to a 49-22 mark, he was named Region VII Coach-of-the-Year.
In 1991, he took his Aztecs to a second consecutive WAC Tournament title and berth in the NCAA regional. In 1996, he became the 17th collegiate coach to reach the 1000-win milestone and only the 10th among active Division I head coaches.
Coach Dietz has received numerous other honors and awards during his illustrious career. He was named the Western Athletic Conference Coach-of-the-Year after leading the Aztecs to the league title in 1986 and was again honored with that award in 1994.
In January of 1983, Dietz was the recipient of the “Super Star Award,” presented annually by Collegiate Baseball newspaper for outstanding effort and achievement in the field of amateur baseball.
In 1994, he was named one of five Citizens-of-the-Year by the City Club of San Diego for his contributions to the city and the community.
Most notable among his other awards are the 1967 Rollie Truitt Award, which is presented annually to the man who has done the most for amateur baseball in Oregon, the NBC (National Baseball Congress) Coach-of-the-Decade for his work with the Fairbanks (Alaska) Goldpanners summer baseball club, and the 1978 Breitbard Foundation award for his contributions through baseball to the San Diego community.
Born in Eugene, Ore., Dietz prepped at Eugene High School where he was an all- district baseball player. After graduation, he accepted a scholarship for baseball and basketball at Oregon State before transferring to Southern Oregon College. At Southern Oregon he was a three-time all-conference infielder and an NAIA All-American as a senior in 1959. After college he went on to play in the Detroit Tiger organization for three years, reaching the AA level before leaving the sport as a player.
He began his coaching career at Lowell High School (Lowell, Ore.) in 1963 where he remained for two seasons. From there he moved to Pleasant Hill (Oregon) High School where he coached varsity baseball from 1965 until 1968. At Pleasant Hill, his teams won three straight league titles and also captured the state championship in 1968.
Later in 1968, he became the freshman and junior varsity coach at the University of Oregon, where he also coached the freshman men’s basketball squad before being appointed head coach at San Diego State prior to the start of the 1972 season.
During the 1970s, Dietz became one of the most successful summer league coaches in history, spending seven seasons with the Fairbanks Goldpanners of the Alaska League. He compiled a 348-151 record there, took all seven of his teams to the NBC National Finals, and won four national summer championships. Among the players he coached at Fairbanks were future major league stars Dave Winfield, Mark McGwire, and Steve Swisher.
He retired from the Goldpanners in 1978 and two years later took the Boulder (Colo.) Baseline Collegians to a 64-12 season, finishing third at the national tournament. That squad included current major leaguers Mark Langston, Joe Carter, and Spike Owen. In 1982 and 1983 he returned to Alaska as head coach of the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, finishing first in the state and second at the national tourney (1982).
After a six-year hiatus, Dietz returned as manager of the Fairbanks Goldpanners in 1990 and led them to a 142-82 (.634) record through the summer of 1993 with tournament championships at the U.S. Open (1990) and the Texas Shootout (1991).
Academically, the 63-year-old Dietz holds a B.A. in social studies from Southern Oregon College and an M.A. in counseling from the University of Oregon.
He is married (Carol) with a son, Steve (31), and a daughter, Jennifer (26).
Dietz’s Collegiate Coaching Record ----Overall----- -Conference- Year Record Pct Record Pct 1972 25-32-1 .438 10-8 .556 1973 31-25-1 .554 9-9 .500 1974 37-24-0 .607 17-9 .654 1975 22-25-0 .468 8-10 .444 1976 36-22-1 .621 13-8 .619 1977 49-16-1 .750 16-8 .667 1978 38-27-0 .585 12-16 .400 1979 55-18-1 .750 12-4 .750 1980 40-26-3 .601 11-12 .479 1981 51-17-0 .750 14-1 .933 1982 58-30-3 .654 14-10 .583 1983 62-15-0 .805 21-3 .875 1984 66-23-0 .742 14-10 .583 1985 42-30-1 .582 6-16 .273 1986 42-23-1 .644 16-8 .667 1987 32-28-1 .533 12-10 .545 1988 47-18-1 .720 21-5 .808 1989 37-25-0 .597 17-9 .654 1990 49-22-0 .690 21- .750 1991 43-21-0 .672 15-6 .714 1992 39-18-0 .684 18-8 .692 1993 22-36-0 .379 7-15 .318 1994 35-23-0 .603 15-9 .625 1995 30-25-0 .545 13-16 .448 1996 32-25-2 .559 16-14 .533 1997 41-22-1 .648 17-13 .567 1998 32-25-0 .561 18-12 .600 1999 27-32-0 .458 14-16 .467 2000 34-28-0 .548 17-12 .586 2001 34-26-0 .567 19-11 .633 Totals 1188-727-18 .619 433-295 .595