Feb. 13, 2012
Courtesy of Bucknell Athletics
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Gene Depew, a 1971 Bucknell graduate who has coached at his alma mater for more than 40 years, including the last 31 as head baseball coach, has announced his retirement following the 2012 season. One of the longest-tenured coaches in Bucknell history in any sport, Depew enters his final season with 570 victories, more than five times the amount of any other Bison baseball coach.
Only the fourth head baseball coach at Bucknell since World War II, Depew has been so well-respected by those that played under his tutelage that in 2003 the Bucknell varsity baseball field was renamed Eugene B. Depew Field in his honor..
The Bison have been especially successful over the last 16 years, finishing either first or second in the Patriot League eight times, including six regular-season titles and five Patriot League Tournament crowns. Additionally, Depew has guided Bucknell to five NCAA Tournament appearances over that span, highlighted by a memorable 7-0 victory over fourth-ranked Florida State in 2008.
Bucknell director of athletics and recreation John Hardt has announced that a national search for Depew’s successor will begin immediately, and that a new head coach is expected to be named prior to the 2012-13 academic year.
“It is a very difficult decision to step away from something that you love doing and have done for a long time, but I have decided to make this my senior year,” said Depew. “It has taken me 45 years to graduate, but it has been time well spent. I have had the privilege to coach some of the finest people anywhere, and I have learned from each of them. So much has changed over the years, but the quality of the people has remained consistent. What I will miss most is the daily interaction with players and coaches, but I look forward to spending time with my family and pursuing hobbies. In the meantime, we have business to take care of this spring, and I am looking forward to enjoying every day as we try to win another league championship and the opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament.”
“Gene Depew has been part of the fabric of Bison Athletics as a student-athlete and a coach for the last four decades, and his daily presence on campus will certainly be missed,” said Hardt. “Gene has positively impacted the lives of thousands of student-athletes throughout his career, and he has elevated the Bison baseball program to heights never before seen. I sincerely congratulate Gene on a wonderful career, I wish him the best of luck in his final season, and I hope to be able to watch games with him at Depew Field for many years to come.”
A native of Mifflintown, Pa., Depew was the recipient of both bachelor and master of science degrees in education from Bucknell. As an undergraduate, Depew was a standout football player for the Bison. He was a three-year letterwinner, earned All-Middle Atlantic Conference Honorable Mention in 1969, and served as co-captain of the team his senior year. He played every position on the defensive line, and was described by his head coach, Fred Prender, as being “as hard-nosed as they come. He has excellent speed and size for a defensive lineman.”
Following graduation, Depew returned to Bucknell to coach the defensive line, and he would remain an assistant football coach until 1992. Depew was first introduced to the baseball program in 1974, when he was hired as an assistant coach under Hall-of-Famer Tommy Thompson. Prior to the 1982 baseball season, Depew was chosen to succeed Thompson as head baseball coach.
In 1993, as the evolution of the Bison football program allowed for more full-time assistant coaches, Depew was able to turn his full attention toward the baseball diamond. Just three years later, Bucknell won its first conference title of any kind since 1969 with a three-game victory over Navy in the Patriot League Championship Series. In 1996 the Bison also advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the first time, competing in Gainesville, Fla.
Depew later piloted Bucknell to Patriot League titles and NCAA appearances in 2001, 2003, 2008 and 2010. It was at that 2008 NCAA Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., when the Bison earned what is considered the biggest win in program history, the 7-0 shutout of a Florida State powerhouse that came in with a 48-9 record and a .350 team batting average.
The Bison nearly repeated the feat two years later when it led regional host South Carolina entering the bottom of the eighth inning. But the Gamecocks rallied for a 9-5 victory, and then went on to win the College World Series.
On an individual level, Depew has won the Patriot League Coach of the Year award four times (1993, 1996, 2003, 2009), has had four Patriot League Pitchers of the Year (Mike Tomko, 1996; Mike Anders, 1998; Kevin Miller, 2003; Ryan Ebner, 2011), four Players of the Year (Kevin Silverman, 1996; Frank Fresconi, 2000; Jason Buursma, 2008; Andrew Brouse, 2010) and two Rookies of the Year (Phil Futrick, 2003; Ben Yoder, 2007). Depew has also led 65 student-athletes to 101 Patriot League first- and second-team accolades. In the classroom, Bucknell baseball has had 11 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans since 1992.
Depew has two brothers who also played football for Bucknell, Terry ('73) and Alvin ('81). Gene and his wife, Debbie, have two children who attended Bucknell. Erin graduated in 2006 and William in 2010.
Depew’s final season as head coach begins on Feb. 18, when the Bison take on La Salle in Davidson, N.C.