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    May 25, 2006
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Temple names baseball field after ex-coach Skip Wilson

The Temple University baseball field, located on the Ambler Campus, has been named the James "Skip" Wilson Field, Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw announced last week.

Wilson, who led the Owls to two College World Series appearances and compiled 1,034 wins in 46 seasons, retired in August 2005. He guided Temple to 14 NCAA Tournaments and 10 conference championships during his tenure. A ceremony honoring Wilson and the naming of the field will take place at a later date.

Wilson, 76, is the winningest coach in Temple history, regardless of sport, and captured his 1,000th win on March 14, 2004, when the Owls defeated Manhattan, 10-9. He finished his career with a record of 1,034-824-27 (.556) and ranks 29th in NCAA history in victories (at the beginning of the 2006 season). Of the coaches ahead of him, only three -- Bob Morgan (Indiana), Bob Hannah (Delaware) and Bob Warn (Indiana State) -- are from Northern schools.

"It is fitting that the Temple baseball field will forever be known as Skip Wilson Field," Bradshaw said. "His name was synonymous with Temple baseball for nearly a half-century, and future generations of Owl players will always remember the man that spent countless number of innings guiding the Cherry and White." The veteran mentor had a wealth of success during the 1970s. He led Temple to two College World Series appearances in 1972 (third place) and 1977 (eighth) and earned four more NCAA bids during the decade.

The Owls won the Middle Atlantic Conference title in 1972 and 1973 and captured four straight East Coast Conference championships from 1975 to 1978. The Cherry and White moved to the Atlantic 10 Conference in 1983 and immediately made its presence felt. Paced by future major-leaguers John Marzano and Jeff Manto, Temple won the A-10 and reached the NCAAs in 1983 and 1984.

Wilson made his last appearance in the NCAA Tournament after a dramatic 2001 season. After opening the year 0-14, the Owls went 24- 14 the rest of the way and won the Atlantic 10. Named the District Coach of the Year three times (1972, 1977, 1978), Wilson was honored by the University on Feb. 16, 1981, when he was inducted into the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame. Wilson also has the distinction of being inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 11, 1987, and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame on April 7, 1994.

A Philadelphia native, Wilson had more than 100 players sign professional contracts, including former Detroit Tigers outfielder Bobby Higginson. Other names of note are Joe Kerrigan, former pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox manager; Manto, who spent 10 seasons in the big leagues with seven teams and is currently the Pittsburgh Pirates' hitting coach; Marzano, a former major-leaguer who serves as a postgame analyst for Phillies games on Comcast SportsNet; Ed Wade, former general manager for the Philadelphia Phillies; and Steve Javie, a highly regarded NBA referee. Wilson graduated from Manayunk's St. John's High School in 1948 and attended Georgetown University on a basketball scholarship.

But the next year, scouts took an interest in his baseball skills and he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. Wilson spent several years in the A's farm system before enrolling at Temple in 1951. Soon after, he received a draft notice from the Army and spent two years in the military.

After graduating from Temple in 1958, Wilson coached the Owls freshman basketball team through the 1970-71 season. He added baseball responsibilities in 1960, becoming Temple's head coach after serving one year as an assistant to former Owls Athletic Director Ernie Casale.

Wilson, who earned his master's degree in 1961 from Temple in health and physical education, taught at Roxborough High School for 34 years before retiring from teaching in February 1992.