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Gillespie Retires; Kreuter Is Hired

Times Staff Writer

USC baseball Coach Mike Gillespie announced his retirement Friday, and it didn’t take the Trojans long to keep things in the family.

Theirs and Gillespie’s.

His successor is Chad Kreuter, former USC director of baseball operations -- and Gillespie’s son-in-law.

Kreuter, 41, is also a former major league catcher who is perhaps best remembered for an incident at Wrigley Field in 2000 when, as a Dodger, he went into the stands in pursuit of a fan after he was allegedly struck and had his cap grabbed off his head as he sat in the bullpen.

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Kreuter is manager of the Modesto Lug Nuts, the Class-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, a post he will leave next week.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to coach a program with the best history in all of college baseball,” Kreuter said in a statement. “It’s an honor to take over after two of the game’s greatest coaches sat in this seat. I’m looking forward to continuing USC’s tradition of excellence.”

Gillespie, 66, was 763-471-2 as USC coach after taking over for the legendary Rod Dedeaux in 1987. His teams won five Pacific 10 Conference titles and made four appearances in the College World Series, winning the 1998 title, but the Trojans this season lost their final 10 games and 19 of their last 22 to finish 25-33, their second-worst record in his tenure.

Even so, his decision to step down came as a surprise to All-American pitcher Ian Kennedy, the ace of USC’s staff.

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“He didn’t indicate that that could be it,” Kennedy said, recalling Gillespie’s remarks after the Trojans’ final game Sunday.

“I thought he would at least finish on a good note and a good year.”

Gillespie played at USC, winning a national title with the Trojans in 1961 as a left fielder. He said in a statement that he was “delighted to know that this stays in the family.

“I’ve greatly enjoyed my experience at USC, dating all the way back to my time as a student and player here,” he added. “What I’ve enjoyed most, and what I’ll miss most, are the relationships with the many players, colleagues and friends of USC baseball.”

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Times staff writer Jonathan Abrams contributed to this report.


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