Tracy Woodson’s baseball career has taken him from coast-to-coast, but on July 23, 2013, baseball brought him home. A Richmond native, Woodson was introduced by Director of Athletics Keith Gill as the Spiders eighth head baseball coach in its 100-plus year history.
During his ten-year career in college baseball, Woodson has coached 35 All-Conference players, three All-Americans, 20 All-Academic honoress, one conference player of the year, two conference pitchers of the year and three NCAA Regional All-Tournament selections.
Additionally, he has seen seven players selected in the Major League Draft. Five players from his time at Valparaiso were selected including Kyle Gaedele, who became the Crusaders’ highest draft pick ever after being selected in the sixth round by the San Diego Padres in 2011. Since taking over the Spiders program, Woodson has seen Matt Dacey (21st round by the Tampa Bay Rays) and Tanner Stanley (36th round by the Kansas City Royals) be selected in the MLB Draft.
During Woodson’s three seasons in Richmond, the Spiders have piled up 80 wins and have been among the nation’s best offenses over the past two seasons.
The 2016 season got off to its best start under Woodson, as the Spiders won nine of the first 10 games, the best start in over a decade - along with posting its highest batting average (.308) in a decade. The Spiders also recorded 28 wins in both 2015 and 2016, the most wins for the program since 2013. Individually, Michael Morman, who played for Woodson at Valparaiso before transferring 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. In his first year at the helm, the Spiders led the Atlantic 10 in home runs (36) and ranked in the top-five in the league in nearly every offensive category.
Woodson’s baseball career began not far from Pitt Field. He attended nearby Bendictine High School before becoming a standout at North Carolina State. He was named ACC Player of the Year and a Second Team All-American in 1984. In 2002, Woodson was selected to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Team and was inducted into the NC State Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
A third-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dogders in 1984, Woodson began his professional career, playing for legendary Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda. Woodson was a member of the 1988 World Series Championship Dodger team, playing the hot corner. Woodson played with the Dodgers for three seasons (1987-89) and played with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1992-93.
In the minor leagues, Woodson was named the New York Yankees AAA Most Valuable Player with Columbus, was a member of three Triple-A championship teams, and a Triple-A All-Star in 1988. He also played in the Double-A All-Star game in 1986. In 1991, Woodson had his first stint at home, playing for his hometown Triple-A Richmond Braves.
Woodson’s professional coaching career began in 1997 as the hitting coach for the Carolina Mudcats (the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates). The next year he served as the manager of minor league clubs in Rookie League ball until his final season in 2004.
Prior to getting into college coaching, Woodson was the manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League (the Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins). The year before he led the Mudcats to the Southern League championship and was named the manager of the Southern League All-Stars. Additionally, he was named Baseball America’s Future’s Game Coach for top minor league managers.
In August 2006, Woodson was named the 16th head coach at Valparaiso, inheriting a team that went 17-34 the previous season. Just two years removed, he guided the team to winning record in 2009, the program’s first in a decade, setting the stage for the Crusaders’ return to national prominence.
During his tenure at Valparaiso (2007-13), he guided the Crusaders to back-to-back Horizon League titles in 2012 and 2013, ending a 44-year NCAA Tournament drought. In the 2013 NCAA Regional, Valpo knocked off Florida for the school’s first tournament win since 1966. Woodson left the Valpo program as its third winningest coach (187 wins), back-to-back 30-plus win seasons, and the 2012 Horizon League Coach of the Year.
Woodson’s Crusader teams were just as successful in the classroom as they were on the field. During his seven season, Valparaiso ranked in the top ten percent of all NCAA teams in multi-year APR performance, while the team’s GPA improved from 2.7 in 2007 to 3.3 in 2013.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education/sports management from Valparaiso in 2010, where he graduate summa cum laude.
Woodson and his wife, Lisa, have two children – Erin, who was born in 2004 and T.J., who was born in 2006. He also has a son, Michael, who was 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. He 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, North Carolina State Head Baseball 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 NC 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 looked forward to the development of the Richmond baseball program in the future.”
--Hal Baird, former East Carolina and Auburn Baseball Head Coach