Gary Henderson Appointed as Utah Baseball Head Coach

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Kevin Cody

University of Utah baseball team in NCAA Baseball game vs. Washington State at Smith’s Ballpark in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Apr. 10, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Writer

 

Gary Henderson has been named the Utah Baseball head coach, taking over for Bill Kinneberg who retired after the 2021 season and 18 years with Utah. Henderson worked with Kinneberg as the associate head coach for two seasons, along with 31 years of coaching experience from elite programs across the country. He has coached for the University of Florida, Oregon State, University of Kentucky and Mississippi State.

Henderson was Mississippi State’s pitching coach before being named interim head coach three games into the 2018 season. Henderson helped to lead the Bulldogs to the semifinals of the College World Series, despite starting the season 0-3. Although Mississippi State lost to Oregon State in the semifinals, Henderson was named NCBWA National Coach of the Year for his success with the program.

Henderson has also been one of the most successful coaches in the University of Kentucky baseball history. He was an assistant coach from 2003 to 2008 before becoming head coach from 2009 to 2016. For the first time in school history, the Wildcats won at least 30 games in five straight seasons. The team also set the program record for wins in a season on three separate occasions and climbed to No. 1 in the nation for the first time in school history. Henderson was also the fastest Kentucky head coach to reach 200 wins.

Henderson has also shown talent in recruiting players and helping them develop into the MLB. During his time at Kentucky, 72 players were picked in the MLB Draft or signed as free agents. His recruiting helped Oregon State win the College World Series in 2006 and 2007. CWS MVP Kevin Gunderson was recruited by Henderson and helped lead the Beavers to a title as pitcher.

Henderson has had eight pitchers reach the majors since 2012. He also coached eight Oregon State pitchers who were drafted by major league teams, five of which were taken in the top eight rounds.

In regards to the hire, University of Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan had high praise for Henderson as he explained the process of promoting the former Associate Coach.

“Coaches from prominent programs across the country were involved and spoken to,” Harlan said. “However, as we analyzed all the candidates, it became clear that we had someone very special on our coaching staff. To have a coach of Gary Henderson’s caliber and experience, who also has such a familiarity with the young men in our program, makes him an ideal leader for the next era of Utah Baseball… In his two years as our associate head coach, he has demonstrated all the qualities that translate to success, and I’m thrilled that he is the new head coach of the program.”

Following his promotion, Henderson also showed his gratitude for the opportunity.

“This community, campus, and city make the University of Utah one of the best places to be in collegiate athletics,” Henderson said. “I can’t thank Mark Harlan, Charmelle Green, and Steve Smith enough for the opportunity to lead this program.”

 

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