Ypsilanti Courier > News

Longtime EMU baseball coach Ron Oestrike, 82, left lasting impression on university

When legendary Eastern Michigan baseball coach Ron Oestrike died last week, the impact was felt well beyond the city of Ypsilanti.

The Flat Rock native and longtime EMU coach died July 11, at the age of 82.

“It’s a sad day for sure, when you lose someone like Oak,” Saline athletic director Rob White, whose relationship stems back to Oestrike’s days as an umpire and White’s days as a coach at Willow Run, said. “He touched so many people’s lives, that’s for sure.”

Oestrike, a 1954 EMU grad, headed up the school’s baseball team from 1965 to 1987 and is the program’s winningest coach, posting a 657-508-8 overall record with the squad.

He guided his alma mater to an NAIA national championship in 1970, a runner-up spot in the 1976 NCAA College World Series and fifth place in the previous year’s World Series. He also claimed four Mid-American Conference championships and made five appearances in the NCAA Regionals.

Several of his former EMU players went on to careers in Major League Baseball, including current Allen Park High School baseball coach Glenn Gulliver, successful pitcher Bob Welch and former Detroit Tiger Pat Sheridan.

Oestrike Stadium, which is named after him, has been the EMU baseball team’s home since 1971.

White’s relationship with Oestrike blossomed by way of fishing trips to Canada with a mutual friend. These “Canadian Wildnerness Expeditions,” as White called them, provided a more personal glimpse of Oestrike.

“Of course I knew who he was and the reputation that he had (when I was coaching),” White said. “But when I would go with that group, I got to spend a lot of quality time with him; swapping stories, fishing and playing late-night cards.

“He had oodles of stories.” Continued...

As a student at EMU, he lettered in both football and baseball and after graduation earned a master’s degree at University of Michigan and spent two years in the U.S. Army.

Oestrike served as a Trenton High School football coach before taking over the EMU baseball team and he is the uncle of current Flat Rock football coach Tom Oestrike.

Oestrike’s personal accolades include NCAA Coach of the Year (1976), NCAA Regional Coach of the Year (1975, 1976, 1978, 1981), MAC Coach of the Year (1975, 1976, 1978, 1982) and an induction into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame (1990).

Oestrike was preceded in death by his wife Shirley, who he was married to for 55 years. He is survived by his five children, Jeffrey, Daniel., Elizabeth (Mark) McClure, Nancy and Matthew (Liza), along with his grandchildren, Megan and Daniel McClure and Bren, Jad and Bly Oestrike.

A funeral service was held at 11 a.m. July 16 at the church. Burial took place at Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock.

Randy Castro contributed to this report.

 

When legendary Eastern Michigan baseball coach Ron Oestrike died last week, the impact was felt well beyond the city of Ypsilanti.

The Flat Rock native and longtime EMU coach died July 11, at the age of 82.

“It’s a sad day for sure, when you lose someone like Oak,” Saline athletic director Rob White, whose relationship stems back to Oestrike’s days as an umpire and White’s days as a coach at Willow Run, said. “He touched so many people’s lives, that’s for sure.”

Oestrike, a 1954 EMU grad, headed up the school’s baseball team from 1965 to 1987 and is the program’s winningest coach, posting a 657-508-8 overall record with the squad.

He guided his alma mater to an NAIA national championship in 1970, a runner-up spot in the 1976 NCAA College World Series and fifth place in the previous year’s World Series. He also claimed four Mid-American Conference championships and made five appearances in the NCAA Regionals.

Several of his former EMU players went on to careers in Major League Baseball, including current Allen Park High School baseball coach Glenn Gulliver, successful pitcher Bob Welch and former Detroit Tiger Pat Sheridan.

Oestrike Stadium, which is named after him, has been the EMU baseball team’s home since 1971.

White’s relationship with Oestrike blossomed by way of fishing trips to Canada with a mutual friend. These “Canadian Wildnerness Expeditions,” as White called them, provided a more personal glimpse of Oestrike.

“Of course I knew who he was and the reputation that he had (when I was coaching),” White said. “But when I would go with that group, I got to spend a lot of quality time with him; swapping stories, fishing and playing late-night cards.

“He had oodles of stories.”

As a student at EMU, he lettered in both football and baseball and after graduation earned a master’s degree at University of Michigan and spent two years in the U.S. Army.

Oestrike served as a Trenton High School football coach before taking over the EMU baseball team and he is the uncle of current Flat Rock football coach Tom Oestrike.

Oestrike’s personal accolades include NCAA Coach of the Year (1976), NCAA Regional Coach of the Year (1975, 1976, 1978, 1981), MAC Coach of the Year (1975, 1976, 1978, 1982) and an induction into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame (1990).

Oestrike was preceded in death by his wife Shirley, who he was married to for 55 years. He is survived by his five children, Jeffrey, Daniel., Elizabeth (Mark) McClure, Nancy and Matthew (Liza), along with his grandchildren, Megan and Daniel McClure and Bren, Jad and Bly Oestrike.

A funeral service was held at 11 a.m. July 16 at the church. Burial took place at Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock.

Randy Castro contributed to this report.

 

Comments

The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of Heritage Newspapers.

Login To Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

*Member ID:
*Password:
Remember login?
(requires cookies)
  Forgot Your Password?
 

Not Registered? Sign up today for free!

Do not use usernames or passwords from your financial accounts!

Note: Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required!

*Create a Member ID:
*Choose a password:
*Re-enter password:
*E-mail Address:
*Year of Birth:
 

(children under 13 cannot register)

*First Name:
*Last Name:
Company:
Home Phone:
Business Phone:
*Address:
*City:
*State:
*Zip Code:
 


National News Videos

Recent Activity on Facebook



Blog Center

Media Lab

Community Media Lab Blog

Community Media Lab is a public outreach project launched by Heritage.com providing a learning-based and collaborative environment where community contributors can experiment, learn and grow.

Frye

Frye on the News

Stephen Frye has covered the police beat and courts for The Oakland Press and now serves as online editor for www.theoaklandpress.com.

Jerry

Voices of Disability

Jerry Wolffe works as the disability rights advocate for the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center and is a former reporter with The Oakland Press. He still writes the Voices of Disability column and created a blog for those who miss reading his articles in the paper. In his blog, he writes profiles of extraordinary people with disabilities, civil rights and inspires his readers and to help others find the way to a world where no one is judged by how they look or their talents but are loved because they are alive.

Pat

Open Book

Pat Caputo is a sports columnist for The Oakland Press who covered the Tigers from 1986-98, and the Lions from 1998-2002.

More Blogs

MI Central Blog Center