Vanderbilt and Virginia met in the national championship series on June 22, 2015. (John Russell)
Alma Mater: Ohio Wesleyan, '84
Head Coach Tim Corbin begins his 14th season at the helm of the Vanderbilt baseball program. During his tenure, Corbin has turned the Commodores into a national power and taken the program to unprecedented success leading Vanderbilt to the top of college baseball in 2014 with the school’s first-ever men’s national championship.
Corbin’s overall record of 567-271 (.677) is second all-time in terms of wins at Vanderbilt, and first in terms of winning percentage for coaches with 100 games or more. In his career as a head coach Corbin is 673-409 (.622).
The 2015 Commodores marched back to the College World Series for the second straight year to give the program it’s first-ever consecutive trips to Omaha finishing as the national runner-up, losing in three games to Virginia in a rematch of the 2014 CWS championship series. Vanderbilt finished the season 51-21 for the second consecutive year making it the only program in the nation with three straight 50-win seasons.
The Dores rallied to win nine straight games, the team’s longest winning streak of the season, in the NCAA Tournament to reach the CWS finals sweeping through the Nashville NCAA Regional in dominant fashion before toppling national seed Illinois on the road to reach Vanderbilt’s third trip to the College World Series. VU rolled through the Regional with wins over Lipscomb, Indiana and Radford. The 21-0 victory over Radford shattered the school record for margin of victory in the NCAA Tournament and matched the NCAA mark. The Commodores continued the roll in Illinois with a pair of dominating wins over the Illini to win the school’s first-ever road Super Regional. Back in Omaha for the third time in five years, the Commodores rolled through their half of the bracket with a come-from-behind victory over Cal State Fullerton and two wins over TCU. The Dores provided plenty of drama in the win over the Titans, winning on Jeren Kendall’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory in the resumption of a suspended game. Vandy won it’s third straight game at TD Ameritrade Park via the home run in the team’s first game against TCU with Zander Wiel’s seventh inning solo homer scoring the only run of the game. VU breezed into the championship series with a 7-1 victory in the rematch against the Horned Frogs three days later. Vanderbilt claimed the opening game against Virginia 5-1 behind a dominant Carson Fulmer start that saw the right-hander turn in 7.2 scoreless innings in his final start as a Commodore.
Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer led the team in their final season in Black & Gold earning first team All-American honors with Swanson picking up National Player of the Year honors from D1Baseball.com and Perfect Game. Fulmer was named National Pitcher of the Year with Swanson earning the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation’s top shortstop. The duo also became the second pair of Vanderbilt teammates and the fourth in the history of the Golden Spikes to be finalists in the same year joining David Price and Pedro Alvarez from 2007. Corbin has coached three different pairs of teammates to be finalists for the Golden Spikes with the four Vanderbilt players joining Clemson’s Khalil Greene and Jeff Baker. Fulmer became the third Vanderbilt pitcher to pick up SEC Pitcher of the Year honors after becoming just the fourth pitcher in the league’s history to win the pitching triple crown, leading the nation’s premier league in wins, ERA and strikeouts. Freshmen Will Toffey, Jeren Kendall and Kyle Wright were consensus Freshman All-Americans.
Three Commodores were selected in the first round of the MLB Draft, another program first, with Swanson, Fulmer and Walker Buehler all joining a growing group of Vanderbilt first round picks to bring the total to 14 overall, 12 in the Corbin era. Swanson became the second Commodore to hear his named called first with the Arizona Diamondbacks taking him No. 1 overall. Vanderbilt is one of two colleges to have multiple top picks with David Price and Swanson. Fulmer was taken eighth overall by the Chicago White Sox and Buehler 24th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fulmer and Buehler became the eighth and ninth VU pitchers under Corbin to be selected in the first round joining Jeremy Sowers (6th overall, Cleveland 2004), David Price (1st overall, Tampa Bay 2007), Casey Weathers (8th overall, Colorado 2007), Mike Minor (7th overall, Atlanta 2009), Sonny Gray (18th overall, Oakland 2011), Grayson Garvin (59th overall, Tampa Bay 2011) and Tyler Beede (14th overall, San Francisco). In Corbin’s program since 2003, an astounding 48 pitchers have been selected in the MLB Draft. Five more Dores heard their name called during the draft for a total of eight; the most since a school and SEC record 12 were selected in 2011.
Vanderbilt finished off the school’s second-ever national championship with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Virginia in the finals of the College World Series to cap a 51-21 season in 2014. The 51-win season marked the third time in the last four seasons Corbin had led the Dores to at least 50 wins as the Vandy skipper was named the consensus National Coach of the Year. Corbin’s Commodores rose to the occasion in the postseason sweeping through the Nashville Regional with wins over Xavier and Oregon before taking down Stanford in three games of the Super Regional to advance to Vanderbilt’s second College World Series in school history. Hawkins Field hosted NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals for the third time in four years. Once in Omaha, Corbin continued to push the Commodores with wins over rival Louisville in the first round and comeback win over UC Irvine. VU reached the championship series with a dramatic, walk-off win over Texas on Tyler Campbell’s bases loaded, infield single. The team sealed the national title in the third game thanks to an eighth inning, solo homer from John Norwood and clutch pitching from Adam Ravenelle over the final two frames. The final victory in Omaha gave the Dores a 10-3 record in the NCAA Tournament.
Corbin reached two more milestones during the regular season with his 500th victory at Vanderbilt, a 5-1 victory at Missouri on May 3, 2014, and his 600th career victory with a win at Arkansas on April 19, 2014.
Vanderbilt’s middle infield of Dansby Swanson and Vince Conde led the way much of the season with the duo earning first team All-SEC honors. Both garnered All-American honors along with freshmen Bryan Reynolds and Hayden Stone, who picked up Freshman All-American status. Carson Fulmer was picked as a second team All-SEC and All-Defense team member by the league’s coaches. Over the summer the Dores pulled off another program first with four players – Dansby Swanson, Carson Fulmer, Bryan Reynolds & Walker Buehler – suiting up for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, matching the Collegiate National Team’s record for players from one school.
Tyler Beede became the ninth player under Corbin to be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft in June when the San Francisco Giants picked Beede with the 14th overall selection.
For the second time in his career Corbin was named the SEC Coach of the Year by the league’s coaches after the Commodores posted one of the best seasons in school history in 2013. The Commodores matched the school record with a 54-12 mark and smashed the Southeastern Conference record, finishing the conference slate an amazing 26-3. Vanderbilt won every series during the regular season, including nine series sweeps. The squad outscored opponents by an average of 8.2-3.9 runs per game with the pitching staff turning in a sub 3.00 ERA for the second time in three seasons. Five Commodores earned All-American honors led by first team All-Americans Tony Kemp and Tyler Beede. Kemp became just the second Commodore in history to be named SEC Player of the Year and just the third in league history to win both Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year awards in his career. Over the summer, Beede pitched for Team USA to become the 12th Vanderbilt player to don the Stars & Stripes.
The Commodores’ SEC regular season championship was the team’s second in three years and third under Corbin. For the fourth time in five years the Dores played in the SEC Championship game and made their eighth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament hosting Regionals for the third time in school history and Super Regionals for the second time.
The 2012 Vanderbilt Commodores overcame a slow start to the season to post the team’s seventh straight trip to the postseason. The Dores finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the nation winning the last four SEC series of the regular season, including series victories over No. 3 Kentucky and at No. 4 LSU. Vanderbilt rolled into the SEC Tournament having won 12 of the last 15 regular season games. Corbin guided the Commodores to the championship game for the sixth time in nine trips, losing to a red-hot Mississippi State team in the final. Vanderbilt made the NCAA Tournament with a trip to the Raleigh Regional finishing runner-up to host NC State to end the season 35-28.
For the second consecutive season (2011-12) the Commodores’ freshman class was tabbed as the nation’s best by Baseball America, becoming the first school in the poll’s 13-year history to post back-to-back top classes. Vanderbilt’s 2012 freshman class was the unanimous top class, also picking up the honor from Collegiate Baseball. Since Corbin’s arrival in 2003, Vanderbilt has earned four top-ranked recruiting classes (2005, 2011, 2012, 2015) and is the only school in the nation to have more than two top classes.
In 2012, one of Corbin’s prize pupils, David Price, was named the American League Cy Young Award winner. Price was the top overall pick by Tampa Bay in 2007 after a stellar career at Vanderbilt. The southpaw went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and 205 strikeouts over 211 innings for the Rays to become the first Commodore to win the Cy Young.
The Commodores’ magical run to Omaha saw several school records equaled or passed. VU won 54 games to match the school record set in 2007 and set the SEC record with 12 players selected in the Major League Baseball draft. Hawkins Field hosted the NCAA Regional round for just the second time in history and Super Regionals for the first time with the Dores sweeping through both rounds en route to the College World Series. Individual awards supplemented the team’s success with Grayson Garvin earning SEC Pitcher of the Year and Tony Kemp picking up SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Garvin became the second VU pitcher to earn the prestigious league award joining David Price, while Kemp is the second Commodore to be named the league’s freshman of the year along with Pedro Alvarez. All four awards have come under Corbin’s watch. Sonny Gray, Jason Esposito, Aaron Westlake and Garvin all garnered All-American honors with Kevin Ziomek, T.J. Pecoraro, Conrad Gregor and Kemp being named Freshmen All-American.
The 2010 Commodores racked up the second-most wins in school history finishing the year with a 46-20 mark, eventually falling at Florida State in the third game of the Super Regional. In order to get to Florida State the team advanced out of the Louisville regional, a place that saw the Dores’ 2009 season end. During the regular season, Corbin led the Commodores to a 16-12 mark, good enough for third in the Southeastern Conference East division behind Florida and eventual national champion South Carolina.
In 2009, Corbin took a young squad with seven new offensive starters and molded them into a team that finished with a 37-27 record and runner-up finishes in the SEC tournament and the NCAA Louisville Regional. The 2009 draft saw six Commodores selected, highlighted by junior pitcher Mike Minor’s selection with the seventh overall pick by the Atlanta Braves. His selection marked the fifth time in the previous three seasons a Vanderbilt player has been picked in the first round.
In 2008, Corbin guided the Commodores to their second straight 40-win season (41-22) and third consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Commodores battled through the first half of the season without the services of Preseason Player of the Year Pedro Alvarez and managed to record road sweeps over Mississippi State and Tennessee for the first time in school history.
The 2008 draft saw eight Commodores selected, highlighted by Pedro Alvarez who was taken with the second overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Vanderbilt became the first school in draft history to have the first overall pick (David Price in 2007) and second overall pick in consecutive drafts.
In 2007, Corbin guided the Commodores to their best season ever, finishing with a school record 54 wins. The team also achieved a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in school history and held that honor for 13-of-15 weeks during the regular season.
The Vanderbilt baseball team also swept through the Southeastern Conference, winning both the regular season and tournament crown for the first time ever and it marked the first time an SEC team had done it since 1996. The team lost only one conference series the entire season against SEC West Division winner Arkansas in Fayetteville and avenged the series loss by defeating the Razorbacks in the SEC tournament title game.
The conference recognized Corbin for the work he had done, naming him SEC Coach of the Year. Corbin also picked up Co-National Coach of the Year honors from College Baseball Insider and regional Coach of the Year honors by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
The Commodores hosted their first-ever NCAA regional as the No. 1 National Seed and arrived as a power in college baseball. Corbin’s success and methods of running the Vanderbilt program has earned him respect among the college and international baseball communities. In the summer of 2006 he managed the USA Baseball National Team to a 28-2-1 record that culminated with a gold medal finish at the FISU (International University Sports Federation) World University Championship in Havana, Cuba. The .919 winning percentage set a new national team high and it garnered special recognition by the United States Olympic Committee.
In 2006, he led a youthful Commodore squad to a 38-27 record and sixth-place finish in the rugged Southeastern Conference. The team was the youngest team in the league, with seven everyday starters being freshmen or sophomores. For the second time in three seasons, Corbin guided the team to the SEC Tournament Championship game and the young squad also gained valuable NCAA experience after advancing to the championship round of the Atlanta Regional. The 2006 team posted impressive series wins over College World Series participant Georgia, Super Regional participants South Carolina and Ole Miss, and took series on the road against Florida and LSU. The team handed LSU its worst conference loss at home in school history in the process.
In 2005, Corbin directed the squad to its second consecutive 30-win season, an achievement that had not been done in over 15 years. The campaign was highlighted with series wins over Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and College World Series participant Tennessee.
In 2004, Corbin not only directed the Commodores to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years, he guided them to their first-ever Super Regional as they swept through the Charlottesville Regional with victories over George Mason, Princeton and host Virginia. In the Super Regional, they fell to the eventual national runner-up, Texas, but still carved out a piece of history as the first team in NCAA baseball history to make it that far one year after having finished with a sub-.500 record. Along the way Vanderbilt racked up 45 wins, was the only team to rank among the SEC’s top five in earned run average (first), batting average (fourth) and fielding percentage (first) and finished with a .703 winning percentage, which was third-best in the highly competitive conference, which sent nine schools to the NCAA Tournament. The Commodores’ school-record .978 fielding percentage was second in the nation, and their 30 error-free games were 11 more than the previous season.
His first Vanderbilt team in 2003 finished 27-28 overall and 14-16 in the SEC, good enough for second in the Eastern Division. It earned a conference tournament berth with a season-ending sweep of Tennessee capped by a dramatic ninth-inning rally in the series finale. The overall and conference victory totals were the most by a first-year Vanderbilt coach and were made more impressive by the fact that the Commodores were 12-5 in one-run games. That squad set then school records for fielding percentage (.972), fewest errors in a season (60), most saves in a season (15) and fewest walks allowed in a season (168). The team notched series victories over nationally-ranked conference foes LSU, Auburn and Florida, each among the top 15 at the time. Plus, on May 6, 2003, Vanderbilt recorded the first perfect game in school history, which was a collective effort. Four different pitchers contributed to the 4-0 victory over Western Kentucky.
In addition to the on field successes, the baseball program itself has had significant upgrades to the facilities with a new fieldhouse, complete with new locker rooms for players, coaches and Commodore alums playing professional baseball. Also included are coach’s offices, a classroom that overlooks Hawkins Field and a new weight room. The program’s facilities again will undergo a dramatic upgrade beginning after the 2016 season. A new building – housing new coaches offices, meeting space, media room, professional locker room, batting cages and weight room among other amenities – will emerge beyond the left field wall with the exterior of the building itself becoming the new “Monster” left field wall.
In 2009, permanent seats in the outfield pushed Hawkins Field seating capacity to double the amount when Corbin arrived in 2003. These upgrades reinforced the excitement and commitment made to the baseball program due to the successes Corbin had achieved. In the latest facility improvement the playing surface at Hawkins Field was replaced during the summer of 2012 with a synthetic surface.
Corbin, along with his coaching staff, are a tireless group that have seen their recruiting efforts pay in 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2015 as their recruiting class was labeled the nation’s best by Baseball America. Professional baseball has also taken notice of the program with 12 Commodores being selected in the first round since 2003.
Before Corbin was hired as the 21st coach in program history, Vanderbilt had not earned a spot in the conference tournament in a decade but made the post-season tournament in 2004. During the 2004 regular season, Vanderbilt swept a series against Mississippi State for the first time. It was one of three conference whitewashes and one of five series wins in all. His efforts earned him the 2004 Vanderbilt Coach of the Year award and a nomination for the Nashville Sports Council’s Sports Person of the Year. Plus, a school-record five players were named to the SEC All-Tournament team, five players were drafted on the first day and seven VU players in all were chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft, topped by No. 6 overall pick, pitcher Jeremy Sowers.
Corbin came to Vanderbilt following nine seasons as an assistant coach at baseball power Clemson. During his time there (1994-2002), the Tigers had more victories than all but four programs. Clemson won more than 71-percent (434 wins, 172 losses) of its games, captured two Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles, made nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament and reached the College World Series four times (1995, 1996, 2000 and 2002). The Tigers ended the 2002 season with their ninth consecutive top 25 finish and their sixth top 10 finish since 1994. Corbin was promoted twice during his tenure. He received the title of assistant head coach in 1998 and in September 2001 became associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. Along the way, he crafted a national reputation as one of the most respected assistant coaches in the country. His efforts helped produce nine straight recruiting classes that were ranked among the top 25 nationally. His on-field work with outfielders and hitters helped 20 Clemson players earn All-America honors and 36 to be drafted to play professional baseball.
Corbin’s dedication and attention to detail caught the eye of the national baseball publication Baseball America on numerous occasions. In 1997, it touted the Clemson coaching staff as one of the top five “College Recruiting Staffs” in the country. It later tabbed the 1999 Tiger freshman class as No. 1 nationally. In 2000, Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association named Corbin its National Assistant Coach of the Year. Also in 2000, Southern California head coach Mike Gillespie served as skipper of the USA Baseball team and chose Corbin as an assistant for his staff. That group guided the Americans to a gold-medal finish at the World Championships in the Netherlands, and that team set a national program record for best winning percentage (.900).
Prior to his tenure at Clemson, Corbin was head coach at Presbyterian College for six seasons beginning in 1988. There he restarted a baseball program that had been dormant for several years. He directed Presbyterian College from NAIA to NCAA Division II status and had a 106-138 overall record. Along the way, the Blue Hose made three consecutive appearances in the South Atlantic playoffs (1991-93), and Corbin earned South Atlantic Coach of the Year honors in 1990.