Former Eastern Michigan University baseball coach Ron Oestrike died early Friday afternoon. He was 82.
“We lost a true Eastern Michigan legend today,” EMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Heather Lyke said in a news release. “Coach Oestrike represented all the good in athletics – honesty, integrity, and a deep caring for the student-athletes. He had a tremendous passion for life, the sport, the kids he coached and for Eastern Michigan University as a whole. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Oestrike is known most for his time as EMU’s baseball coach from 1965-87, but he was an alumnus as well. He graduated from Eastern in 1954, where he met his wife Shirley. They were married April 3, 1954.
New York Mets Manager Terry Collins played shortstop for the Hurons from 1968-71. He said Oestrike taught him and his teammates a great deal about the game of baseball.
“He was a great guy,” Collins said. “He taught us to appreciate the game. He made the game fun when I played for him. No one loved the university more. “
Former EMU baseball coach Jay Alexander spoke very highly of Oestrike.
“What he [Oestrike] did for EMU baseball is very hard to duplicate and I don’t think it will be duplicated any time in the near future,” he said.
Michigan State University baseball coach Jake Boss also thought very highly of Oestrike as a mentor and as a person.
“When I got to Eastern as an assistant coach, he took me under his wing,” he said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon.
Boss said many of Oestrike’s former players looked up to him as a second father.
Oestrike led his Hurons to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championship in 1970 and two trips to the College World Series – a fifth place finish in 1975 and second place in 1976, with the help of the late Bob Welch.
Oestrike finished his coaching career with a 633-492-8 overall record.
EMU’s baseball stadium also bears his name.
He was predeceased by his wife Shirley (2009) and is survived by their five children: Jeffrey, Daniel, Elizabeth, Nancy, and Matthew and their five grandchildren.
Visitations will be held Tuesday, July 15, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., and Wednesday, July 16, from 10-11 a.m. They will take place at Ypsilanti First United Methodist Church. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, July 16, at 11 a.m., at the church.
Social Media: Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho
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