Lance Brown, TCU's all-time winningest coach, is entering his 17th season as the Horned Frogs' head mentor. Besides being an exciting season for Brown due to the opening of Lupton Stadium and Williams-Reilly Field, he could also reach a number of milestones in his coaching career in 2003.
Should the Horned Frogs win 18 games this season, Brown will become the first TCU baseball coach to reach the milestone 500-win plateau. Brown can also become the first Frog coach to win 200 conference games with eight Conference USA victories.
No matter if there is a milestone in sight or not, when the Horned Frogs step on the field, they are as intense a team as there is in the country. Never afraid to play the top teams in the nation, Brown's Frogs have posted 27 wins in the last four seasons over nationally ranked opponents, including eight in 2002.
Win or lose, Brown's teams have carried themselves with class, both on and off the field. The mark of a good program is one that knows how to handle success and failure. Why does Brown operate with such intensity and class? It is all because of his love for the game of baseball.
Brown's career record of 482-449 ranks ahead of Frank Windegger, who was Brown's head coach in his TCU playing days, as tops in TCU history. Windegger, who won four conference titles in his tenure, compiled a 298-168 overall record in 14 seasons.
Brown entered the 1996 season needing only 26 wins to move past Windegger. The Frogs appeared ready to give Brown the record early in the year as they jumped out to a 23-15 overall start. However, a mid-season slump would only delay the inevitable. Finally, on April 21, the Frogs put everything back together and defeated the University of Houston, 14-4, to give Brown win number 299.
Intensity is a word Brown learned early in his career. The former Frog hurler was the Southwest Conference Player of the Year in 1963. Brown finished the '63 season with an 11-1 record (8-1 in SWC action) and earned all-SWC honors and All-America honors under second-year head coach Windegger. Brown remains tied for the school mark for pitching victories in a season, with 11, and he ranks third in strikeouts in a single season with 109.
Brown has played a large role in the success of TCU baseball. En route to All-America honors in 1963, he pitched the Horned Frogs to the 1963 SWC championship. Thirty-one years later, he guided the Frogs to the 1994 SWC title as the head coach, making him one of only two men to win SWC Player and Coach of the Year.
When Brown took over as TCU's head baseball coach in May 1986, he inherited a program that was making its fourth coaching change in 11 years. During that same timespan, the program had only five winning seasons and its best finish in the Southwest Conference had been sixth place.
The first thing Brown set out to accomplish was not to teach fundamentals, or to improve the schedule, or to improve the facilities. The first step was to teach the Horned Frogs how to win consistently.
By 1994, Brown had the Frogs doing just that. They not only won consistently, but they did things that had not been done at TCU since Brown had starred as a Horned Frog pitcher in the early 1960s.
En route to a school-record 38 wins, the Frog diamond men won their first Southwest Conference regular season title since 1972 and first outright crown since 1956. They received an NCAA Regional tournament berth for the first time since 1956, where they recorded the school's first NCAA Tournament win, a 11-3 triumph over current C-USA foe Memphis in Stillwater, Okla.
Under Brown's tutelage, the Frogs have set close to 100 team and individual records. Just last season, Terry Trofholz tied the school record with 94 hits, tying the mark of student of Brown's, Royce Huffman.
Well-respected by his coaching peers, Brown was selected as the 1994 Regional Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He was named the 1994 SWC Coach of the Year, his second such honor in his career. He also was the 1991 SWC Coach of the Year.
Preceding his arrival at TCU, Brown had served as the pitching coach at Rice University from 1983-86. In Brown's first season on the Rice staff, the Owls led the nation in team earned run average with a 2.60 mark. Four pitchers from that staff were signed to professional contracts and three were named all-SWC.
During the summer of 1983 Brown coached the Kenai Peninsula Oilers in the perennially tough Alaskan League. He also served as a batting practice pitcher for the Houston Astros from 1984 through 1986, the National League All-Star team in 1986, the American League All-Star team in 1995 and the Texas Rangers during parts of the last decade.
Brown also holds an impressive list of coaching credentials at the high school level. He coached at Arlington's Sam Houston High School from 1967-69, Irving MacArthur High School from 1969-76, and Newman Smith High School in Carrollton from 1976-83.
Brown has coached six major league products for the Frogs as current TCU assistant coach Glenn Dishman (San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers), Tim Mauser (San Diego Padres), Fred Benavides (Montreal Expos), Chris Eddy (Oakland Athletics), John Briscoe (Oakland Athletics) and Jeff Zimmerman (Texas Rangers) have all gone on to careers at the major league level. In 1999, Zimmerman was named to the American League All-Star team in his rookie season. Playing a key role on that year's American League West-champion Texas Rangers, Zimmerman eventually finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting.
In addition, 35 Horned Frogs have been drafted by Major League organizations during Brown's stint as head coach. Last season, first baseman Walter Olmstead was selected in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Reds and shortstop Levi Robinson went to the Baltimore Orioles in the 34th round of the first-year player draft.
In all, Brown has coached 48 all-conference selections during his TCU career, including Royce Huffman, the 1999 WAC Most Valuable Player. Last season, outfielder Terry Trofholz became the first TCU player named first-team all-Conference USA, while teammates Clayton Jerome, Chris Meeks and Walter Olmstead all earned second-team accolades.
Six Brown-coached players -- Scott Malone, Tim Grieve, Adam Robson, Darren Tawwater, Royce Huffman and Trofholz -- have received second- or third-team all-America honors. A year ago, Trofholz became the sixth Brown-coached player to earn all-America plaudits when he was a consensus second-team all-American. He is also a 2003 second-team preseason all-America honoree.
A 1960 graduate of West Plains High School in West Plains, Missouri, Brown earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from TCU in 1967. He spent three seasons in the Chicago Cubs organization while finishing his degree at TCU. Brown's wife, Molly, graduated from TCU with a Bachelor of Arts degree.