Kansas Jayhawks baseball coach Ritch Price announces retirement after 20 seasons

·5 min read
Jeff Jacobsen/KU Athletics

The 20-year Ritch Price era is over at Kansas.

Price, the winningest baseball coach in KU history, announced his retirement Sunday in a KU news release. Price, whose Jayhawks went 20-35 overall this season and 4-20 in Big 12 Conference games, completed his KU career with a 581-558-3 (.510) record.

His overall record as a Div. I coach is 798-786-4.

The Jayhawks finished this season on an eight-game losing streak, including a three-game weekend sweep at Texas. KU failed to qualify for the eight-team Big 12 tournament, which begins Wednesday in Arlington, Texas.

“Ritch Price poured his heart and soul into the Kansas baseball program for two decades,” said KU athletic director Travis Goff, “and we are forever grateful for his significant contributions to our university, athletic department and baseball program. His pride for Kansas baseball is unmatched and he has made an indelible impact on countless young men and our program. On behalf of the entire athletic department, we wish Ritch the very best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Price started at KU in 2003 after coaching Cal-Poly to a 217-228-1 record over eight seasons. Price became the all-time winningest coach in KU program history on March 4, 2017 following an 11-7 win over Northwestern State. That 439th win broke a record that stood 35 years by former KU coach Floyd Temple (438 wins).

Price led KU’s program to three NCAA Tournament appearances (2006, 2009 and 2014) in his 20 seasons and one Big 12 tournament title (2006).

“For the past 20 years, I have been honored and privileged to serve as the head baseball coach at the University of Kansas. After meeting with Travis Goff today, we agreed that it’s time for me to announce my retirement,” Price said Sunday in a statement.

“First, I would like to thank everyone in Kansas Athletics who I have met, developed relationships with and have worked with the baseball program over the last two decades. This is an extraordinary place and you are the people that make it great. I want to thank all of the assistant coaches that I have been privileged to work with over the last 20 years. We grinded, competed, and overachieved to win the most games in program history!” he added in his statement.

“I want to personally say thank you to the many donors, alumni, fans and friends of KU baseball. Your generosity, financial support and passion have helped our program grow and raise $7 million for upgrades to Hoglund Ballpark during my tenure as head baseball coach. Those upgrades have been instrumental in helping us develop our players to successfully compete in the Big 12 Conference.

“Finally, I want to thank all of the players that I have had the honor to coach and mentor over the past 20 years. I’ve always believed that baseball is a player’s game and I’ve always taken great pride in being a player’s coach. I’m so proud of the student-athletes who have played at KU during my tenure. My guys have represented our baseball program on the field, in the classroom and in our community in a first-class manner. I love you boys, you’re the best! As I’ve said many times, I’m a Jayhawk for life!”

In his statement, Price also thanked deputy AD Sean Lester; trainer Ken Wainwright; strength and conditioning coach Luke Bradford; academic adviser Glenn Quick; equipment managers Demetrius Daniels and Mike Hill Sr.; sports information directors Brandon Perel and Mike Cummings; director of baseball operations Wally Marciel; and administrative assistant Marcia Bagby.

“All of you form an incredible team and provide the expertise and resources to give our players a big-time Power Five college experience,” Price said.

The Sweet Home, Oregon native who graduated from Willamette University in 1978 was named the 33rd head baseball coach at Kansas on July 1, 2002. In his first season at KU, he led the Jayhawks to 35 wins, the most by the program in eight seasons. He posted 11 winning seasons with the Jayhawks, including a 43-25 mark in 2006, a 39-24 record in 2009 and a 35-26 record in 2014. All three of those squads reached the NCAA Tournament.

Price has had 75 players sign professional contracts. He coached 109 all-conference selections and two All-Americans (Don Czyz in 2006; Tony Thompson 2009). Seven of his recruited players made it to Major League Baseball (Wes Benjamin, Sam Freeman, Mike Zagurski, Tom Gorzelanny, Colton Murray, Brett Bochy and Travis Metcalf).

KU shortstop Maui Ahuna finished the 2022 season with a .396 batting average, the highest mark by a KU player since 1997.

In 2008, Price was selected as an assistant coach for USA Baseball’s collegiate national team. Price helped lead the U.S. to a 24-0 record in international play, the only collegiate national team to go undefeated. The squad won its third straight FISU world championship. The Team USA club also defeated Cuba twice during the summer, marking the first time an American team accomplished that feat.

As head coach at Cal Poly (1994-2002), Price transitioned the baseball team to Division I status. He’d previously coached at De Anza Community College (1987-94), where he was also athletic director, and at Menlo College (1983-86).

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