To spar with the country’s top 15 athletic programs, baseball coach Mike Gambino ‘99 believes in diving deeper than a hitter’s runs batted in total or a pitcher’s win-loss record.
“If wins and losses are [the sole focus], then values, morals, and ethics can be compromised,” he says. “But if the growth and development of your kids is number one, then the winning should take care of itself.”
In his nine years at the helm nurturing student-athletes’ potential on the baseball field, in the classroom, and as a person, Gambino has had his share of success.
Not only has he produced two freshman All-Americans and 16 MLB draft picks, two of whom were first round—for franchises including the Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins, and New York Yankees—but the former Eagles infielder also led the baseball program to a historic 2016 season that ended one game shy of the College World Series. That year, BC also earned a national ranking for the first time in school history, ending the season in the top 25. In 2017, the Eagles ranked fourth in BC record books for their .975 fielding percentage and fifth all-time with 76 stolen bases.
Gambino has also gained traction in the classroom. Under him, eight Eagles have made it to the All-ACC Academic Baseball Team and 64 to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
“Our biggest distinction is our Jesuit tradition,” he says. “This shapes how we teach and how we coach. I do believe you can develop kids this way, and we’ve shown it,” said Gambino.
And when it comes to discipline, integrity, commitment, and character, Gambino is confident his Eagles go unmatched in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Take senior Dante Baldelli, who was named to the 2018 All-ACC Academic Baseball Team, for example. The talented center fielder from Rhode Island had his share of early injuries, but Gambino and his coaching staff never wavered in their support of Baldelli, a 2016 Philadelphia Phillies draft pick.
“Dante is a perfect example of what we do at Boston College,” said Gambino. “At a lot of places at this level, a kid with an early injury or with some early struggles gets cut or released or sent to a junior college,” he says.
“Whereas here, we believe in the potential of all of our students, and he keeps working. He’s a tremendous kid and a great student, so even though he’s had a little bit of tough luck with injury, it’s been awesome to watch him continue to grow and develop.”
Another added benefit for Gambino and the program has been the opening of the Harrington Athletics Village, the state-of-the-art home for BC’s baseball and softball programs. The new complex is equipped with AstroTurf Diamond Series to allow the Eagles to play in the unpredictable New England weather and Musco LED lights to allow night games.
The announcement of the Pete Frates Center, scheduled to open in summer 2020, has sparked even more excitement. The 31,000-square-foot indoor baseball and softball facility will feature locker rooms, hitting tunnels, indoor turf field, strength and conditioning space, and a hospitality area.
“To have people care about your programs and care enough to give that amount of money to build [facilities] is unbelievable,” says Baldelli, recipient of the John L. Harrington Scholarship, named after the longtime Boston Red Sox CEO and BC Class of 1957 alumnus.
“You think about the recent success we’ve had and the development of our guys; we did that essentially without a baseball field,” said Gambino.
“Making our alumni and former players proud of BC baseball is extremely important to me,” he says. “We take pride in the program for how it represents Boston College and serves the University’s Jesuit mission.”