Tracy Woodson’s baseball career has taken him from coast-to-coast. It brought him home on July 23, 2013 when University of Richmond Director of Athletics Keith Gill introduced Woodson, a Richmond, Va. native, as the Spiders eighth head baseball coach in its 100-year history.
In 2015, Woodson helped lead the Spiders to the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the fifth-straight season, becoming the only team in the league to accomplish that feat. Richmond's 28 wins on the year were the most for the team since 2013.
Individually, 2015 was one of the best years for the program in recent history. OF Michael Morman, who played for Woodson at Valparaiso before transeferring to Richmond, was named an All-American by two organizations and became just the second player in program history to be named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Along with Morman, 3B Matt Dacey was named First-Team All-Atlantic 10 and First-Team ABCA/Rawlings All-East Region. RHP Ryan Cook was also named first-team all-region, while earning Second-Team All-Atlantic 10 honors.
In June, a pair of Spiders, Dacey and OF Tanner Stanley, were selected in the 2015 MLB Draft. Dacey was taken with the 13th pick of the 21st round by the Tampa Bay Rays, while Stanley was drafted with the 24th pick of the 36th round by the Kansas City Royals. RHP Ryan Cook also caught on professionally, signing a free-agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
In his first season at the helm of Spider Baseball in 2014, Woodson helped guide a Richmond squad beset by injury to its fourth-straight Atlantic 10 Tournament appearance. Despite the injuries, the team claimed quality wins, including a 7-4 victory at Woodson’s alma mater and ACC power NC State.
As a team, Richmond led the A-10 in home runs in 2014 with 36 and also ranked in the top-five in the league in slugging percentage, runs, RBI, doubles, walks and total bases. Individually, both 3B Matt Dacey and DH Kurtis Brown were named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team after outstanding first seasons under Woodson.
Woodson, 50, made history during his seven-year tenure as head coach at Valparaiso (2007-13), where he guided the Crusaders to back-to-back Horizon League titles in 2012 and 2013, ending a 44-year NCAA tournament drought at the northwestern Indiana school. Valpo’s victory over Florida in the 2013 NCAA Regional was the school’s first tournament triumph since 1966.
He was named Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2012, posted back-to-back 30+ win seasons in 2012 and 2013 and left the Valpo program as its third winningest baseball coach.
His baseball career began in Richmond, where he grew up not far from Pitt Field, the home of Spider baseball nestled on the wooded Richmond campus. He attended nearby Benedictine High School before becoming a college standout at N.C. State. Woodson was named ACC Player of the Year and Second Team All-American in 1984. He was selected to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team in 2002 and inducted into the N.C. State Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
A third-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1984, Woodson played for legendary Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and was a member of the 1988 World Series Championship Dodger team, playing the corner infield spot. Over his 13-year professional career, Woodson played with the Dodgers from 1987-1989 and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1992-1993.
During his time in the minor leagues, Woodson was named the New York Yankees AAA Most Valuable Player with Columbus. He was a member of three AAA championship teams and a Triple-A All-Star in 1988. Woodson also played in the AA All-Star game in 1986. In 1991, he played for his hometown team, the Triple-A Richmond Braves.
Woodson began his professional coaching career in 1997 as the hitting coach for the Carolina Mudcats, the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and, beginning in 1998, served as a manager of minor league clubs in Rookie League, A, and AA until his final season in 2004.
Prior to Valparaiso, Woodson was the manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League in 2004, the AAA affiliate of the Florida Marlins. The year prior, he led the Mudcats to the Southern League championship, and was named the manager of the Southern League All-Stars. In addition, he was named Baseball America’s Future’s Game Coach for top minor league managers.
He was named Valparaiso’s 16th head coach in August, 2006, inheriting a team that went 17-34 the previous season. Just two years removed, Woodson guided his squad to a winning record in 2009, the program’s first in a decade, setting the stage for the Crusaders’ return to national prominence.
Woodson’s student-athletes were no strangers to honors during his tenure, as 10 players were named First-Team All-Horizon League and 14 more earned second-team distinction. Woodson also coached two All-Americans, two Horizon League Pitchers of the Year, the 2013 Horizon League Relief Pitcher of the Year, two Horizon League batting champions and three NCAA Regional All-Tournament selections while at Valparaiso.
Additionally, Woodson saw five Crusaders selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, including Tanner Vavra who was taken in the 30th round in 2013 by the Minnesota Twins. Kyle Gaedele became Valpo’s highest draft pick ever after being chosen in the sixth round, number 203 overall, by the San Diego Padres in 2011. In 2010, pitcher Bryce Shafer was drafted by the Chicago Cubs while Bo McClendon was a pick of the Detroit Tigers, marking the first time since 1969 the Crusaders have had two players selected in the same draft.
Woodson’s Crusader teams were just as successful in the classroom as they were on the field. Under Woodson, 19 student-athletes were named to the Horizon League All-Academic team, while 61 players were named to the Horizon League’s Academic Honor Roll. During Woodson’ seven seasons, Valparaiso ranked in the top 10% off all NCAA teams in multi-year APR performance, while the team’s GPA improved from 2.7 in 2007 to 3.3 in 2013.
In 2010, he earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education/sports management from Valparaiso, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Tracy and his wife, Lisa, have two children, Erin born in 2004 and T.J. born in 2006. Tracy also has a son Michael, born in 1989.
What They’re Saying About Tracy Woodson:
"Tracy's reliable, intelligent and hard working - all traits he showed as an outstanding ball player. Learned all the great things he does as a coach from me."
-- Tommy Lasorda, Three-Time World Series Champion and Baseball Hall of Famer
“Great hire by the University of Richmond. Tracy’s a tremendous baseball coach and has been a student of the game for a long time. He has the dedication, the work ethic and he’s walked the walk having played collegiately and professionally. Tracy’s credibility with student-athletes is immeasurable.”
--Ray Tanner, South Carolina A.D. and two-time NCAA Championship coach
“In hiring Tracy Woodson, the University of Richmond has hired a man with great energy and love for baseball and the city of Richmond. He’s a player’s coach, he understands the game, the respect of the game and the fun of the game. With his tremendous knowledge of baseball, Tracy will be a great success for the university and for the city of Richmond.”
--Elliott Avent, N.C. State Head Coach
“The University of Richmond has made a great hire in Tracy Woodson. I have known Tracy from his time at Benedictine, coached against him at N.C. State and during his time in the pros. Not many college coaches have had that type of success at all three levels of baseball. Couple that with his knowledge and experience of Virginia and the city of Richmond and I look forward to the development of the Richmond baseball program in the future.”
--Hal Baird, Former East Carolina and Auburn Head Coach