When Tallahassee Community College introduced Mike McLeod on September 4, 1990, it had a rookie head coach, no facilities and a baseball program that had been dormant for 20 years. Fast-forward to 2018 and McLeod, the longest-tenured head coach in Region 8, is entering his 28th season at the helm of the Eagles’ baseball program, is one of the game’s most respected coaches and Tallahassee boasts one of the country’s most recognized baseball brands.
After fielding a club level team in 1991, the Eagles began play in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) one year later as a member of the Florida College System Activities Association’s (FCSAA) Panhandle Conference (PC).
During his tenure at Tallahassee, McLeod has guided the Eagles to five outright PC Championships – 1995, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2013 – while being named co-champions in 2002. His teams have made a total of ten trips to the NJCAA Gulf District/FCSAA Baseball Tournament, most recently in 2017 when the Eagles qualified through the FCSAA's Wild Card play-in games.
McLeod has also been named Panhandle Conference Coach of the Year five times, receiving the award in each of Tallahassee’s championship seasons (1995, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2013). Through 27 seasons, including the 1991 campaign as a club team, as well as a 28-25 record in 2017, McLeod has an overall record of 919-470-4 at TCC, a winning percentage of .660.
The 2017 season also delivered McLeod's most recent milestone victory: career win No. 900 - an 11-6 win over Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) Community College on February 26.
McLeod coached the Eagles to arguably the greatest season in school history in 2013. Tallahassee cruised to the Panhandle Conference championship, held the top spot in the FCSAA Baseball Coaches' Poll for the final seven weeks of the season and, on April 24, ascended to the NJCAA No. 1 ranking for the first time ever. The Eagles were eliminated in three games at the NJCAA Gulf District/FCSAA Tournament but still finished the season with a record of 46-10.
A lifelong resident of Tallahassee, McLeod graduated from Godby High School. His success as a standout prep pitcher for the Cougars served as the foundation to a successful pitching career. McLeod got his first taste of NJCAA baseball in 1974, as a player at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, Ga. In his only season with the Warriors, McLeod compiled an 8-2 record, authored two no-hitters and earned All-America honors from the NJCAA. McLeod returned to his hometown and Florida State University for the final three years of his collegiate career, where he went 12-3 and hurled a third career no-hitter.
Though he was drafted twice, once by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1974 and again by the New York Yankees in 1977, McLeod always seemed destined to take the coaching route. He spent six summers as a coach in the professional ranks — three in the Yankees' organization, two with the Montreal Expos and one with the Minnesota Twins. Upon graduating from Florida State in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in criminology and a coaching certificate, McLeod played minor league baseball for three years in the Yankees' farm system.
In 1982, McLeod accepted a position at Florida State under legendary coach Mike Martin. It was during his nine-year stint (1982-90) as pitching coach with the Seminoles that McLeod earned his reputation as one of the nation’s premiere pitching instructors. His efforts played a large role in Florida State’s rise to national prominence that included College World Series appearances in 1986, 1987 and 1989. As an assistant with the Seminoles, McLeod was also part of seven straight Metro Conference championship teams (1983-89). During his final season at Florida State, his staff led the NCAA in earned run average.
An unlimited source of knowledge and top-level instruction, McLeod's commitment to his student-athletes has been unparalleled, first at Florida State and now at Tallahassee.
More than 30 of McLeod’s pupils at Florida State signed professional contracts, and he is credited with the development of former Seminole baseball standouts Richie Lewis and 1986 Golden Spikes Award winner Mike Loynd. At Tallahassee, more than 100 players have continued their education and athletic careers at four-year schools.
McLeod has coached five NJCAA All-Americans, including A.J. Johnson, the 2004 NJCAA Player of the Year. His Tallahassee honor roll also includes more than 20 All-FCSAA selections, more than 90 All-Panhandle Conference picks, and 12 players who received academic honors from the NJCAA.
McLeod has also coached six future Major Leaguers - the latest being Lorenzo Cain, who was an American League All-Star Game starter and won a World Series ring with the Kansas City Royals in 2015, and was the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player in 2014. Cain joins the following players on the Eagles' MLB Alumni list - the late Ryan Freel, Brandon Jones, Mike Metcalfe, Juan Padilla and Michael Saunders, who also suited up for Team Canada in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
McLeod’s coaching career has also included an international opportunity. In 2003, he was selected to serve as pitching coach for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team, which included future Major Leaguers Daniel Bard (Boston Red Sox/Chicago Cubs) and Billy Butler (Kansas City Royals/Oakland Athletics).
McLeod’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2002, he was part of the inaugural class of inductees into the Eagle Athletics Hall of Fame.
Mike and his wife, Rose Marie, who was a cheerleader at FSU, have two children - daughter, Jennifer Marie, and son, Garrett, a former college baseball standout at Tallahassee and Embry-Riddle. Garrett and his wife, Carrie, a former track standout at Florida State University, are the proud parents of daughters, Alena, Evie, and Isla, and son, Maddox.