ISU Introduces Mark Kingston as Head Baseball Coach
June 10, 2009
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger formally introduced Mark Kingston as the Redbirds' ninth head baseball coach Wednesday, starting a new era for the program. Kingston, who served as the team's associate head coach during the 2009 season, replaces Jim Brownlee, who retired after seven seasons at ISU and 30 seasons overall.
Kingston gave the Redbirds an immediate boost after joining the coaching staff last summer, signing one of the most talented fall recruiting classes in recent years. The 2009 Redbirds posted their first winning season and first postseason appearance since 2001. Kingston, who helped Illinois State set school records for wins and scoring as an assistant in 1999, sparked improvement on offense and defense as the Redbirds raised their team batting average and fielding percentage from the 2008 season.
"When we set out on the search for a coach a year ago, we looked for candidates who fit three criteria: strong pedigree, successful recruiting and someone who was right for Illinois State," said Zenger. "Mark Kingston has coached for some of the best college baseball programs in the nation, he has been a highly successful recruiter and he is a great fit for Illinois State."
Prior to returning to Illinois State, Kingston spent seven years as recruiting coordinator at Tulane University and served as an assistant on the Miami team that won the 2001 College World Series. He has coached at the collegiate level for 13 years, reaching 500 wins as an assistant in 2009, and was widely respected throughout the sport as one of the top assistants in the nation.
Kingston's eight-man recruiting class, vibrant personality and knowledge of the game have already energized the Illinois State baseball program. These elements, along with the recently renovated stadium at Duffy Bass Field, Illinois State's rich baseball history and position as a top-level institution, prompted Baseball America's Aaron Fitt to call Illinois State baseball a "perfect storm" when Kingston was hired last August.
"This is a guy that I think would have been a fit at any of the top programs in the country looking for a head coach," Fitt said. "There's a lot of work to be done, but I think the foundation is there with the facilities improvements. It sounds like the perfect storm really. You can contend for a national title in the Missouri Valley Conference - and Wichita State has proven that. You need to have the right mix of a good coaching staff and quality facilities and it looks like Illinois State is going down the right road there."
Kingston spent five seasons as associate head coach for the Green Wave with the responsibility of building the Tulane team through recruiting, coaching Tulane hitters and developing catchers and infielders. At Tulane, Kingston's recruiting and coaching efforts helped the Green Wave to six postseason appearances, two NCAA Super Regionals and a berth in the College World Series. The 2005 Green Wave team was seeded as the top-team overall while also receiving the top-academic honor in Omaha. Tulane averaged nearly 42 wins per season with Kingston on staff.
Praised by many for his ability to transfer knowledge to his players and develop talent, Kingston also has a knack for finding and recruiting talented players. In six of his seven seasons as recruiting coordinator for the Green Wave, Kingston's classes ranked in the top-25 in the nation. Kingston signed eight of the nation's Top-100 prospects in 2003 and 2004, and the 2005 class was tabbed as the No. 4 class in the country by Baseball America.
Kingston recruited or coached seven players who became All-Americans at Tulane, including James Jurries (2002) and Michael Aubrey (2003). The Green Wave sluggers became the first hitters in 18 years to hit .400 for the season and both earned Conference USA Player of the Year recognition. Aubrey was selected by the Cleveland Indians 11th overall in 2003, the highest Tulane player ever taken in the Major League Draft.
Prior to joining the Green Wave staff, Kingston spent two years coaching at Miami (Fla.), where he helped the Hurricanes capture the 2001 College World Series as the No. 1 overall seed. While at Miami, the Hurricanes finished with top-five school single-season marks in batting average, runs scored and slugging percentage, and led the nation with 228 stolen bases in 2001. In the run to the 2001 national title, the `Canes had an NCAA-best 17-0 run to end the season and set a College World Series record with 12.3 runs per game while hitting .373 as a team in Omaha.
Under Kingston's tutelage, two Hurricanes players earned All-America honors, three earned Freshman All-America recognition, rookie Kevin Howard was named the 2000 Baseball America National Freshman of the Year and 18 players went on to sign professional contracts.
Kingston previously spent one year as an assistant with the Redbirds and helped put together one of the most impressive seasons in school history. The 1999 Redbirds set a school record for wins in a season (35), runs scored, RBI, doubles, hits and walks, while finishing second in school history in home runs, total bases and batting average.
Kingston got his start in coaching at Purdue. In two seasons, he worked his way into the top assistant position while helping the Boilermakers post three of the top-seven batting averages in school history. Kingston helped Purdue place five position players on the All-Big 10 Team after not posting any the year before his arrival.
The Northern Virginia native played professionally for five seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs organizations. Drafted by the Brewers out of North Carolina in 1992, Kingston spent one season with Milwaukee's rookie-level team before going on to play for Peoria (A), Daytona (Advanced A) and Orlando (AA) in the Cubs organization.
As a player at North Carolina, Kingston was part of the 1989 Tar Heels squad that won an Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and advanced to the College World Series, and helped the team win the ACC Tournament and advance to NCAA Regionals in 1990 as a sophomore. Kingston received the Trippe Bourne "Most Dedicated Player" Award for his outstanding work ethic and leadership during his junior campaign, and was named a team captain his senior season.
Kingston attended Potomac High School, where he developed into a Collegiate Baseball Top-50 Prospect and was drafted by the New York Yankees after leading his team to the 1988 state championship. In 2006, Kingston was inducted into the Potomac Hall of Fame. In all, Kingston owns a 500-279-2 (.640) record as an assistant coach in 13 seasons in the college ranks. Kingston has coached eight teams to NCAA Tournament berths, four teams that appeared in NCAA Super Regionals, and two that participated in the College World Series.
Kingston and his wife, the former Letitia Kelly, have three children, Kailyn Grace, Cameron James and Kathryn Patricia. He also wrote and produced two instructional videos for Championship Productions, "Keys to Consistent Hitting" and "Catching Drills and Fundamentals". He also was the only assistant coach chosen to write a chapter in "The Baseball Drill Book" produced by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.