Tom Griffin will enter his 14th season as head baseball coach at Carson-Newman in 2019.
In his 13 years at Mossy Creek, the New Jersey-native has looked right at home as the head coach of the Eagles. He has compiled an overall record of 376-295 and a conference record of 170-150 at Carson Newman. He is 561-473-2 in 21 seasons as a college baseball coach.
Griffin's hard work and perseverance landed him in Jefferson City for a third stint, this time as the lead Eagle.
"This is a dream come true," Griffin said. "Carson-Newman has changed my life. To work here as the head coach is exactly how I want to lead young men, both on and off the field. I want our student-athletes to develop not just on the baseball field, but I want them to grow spiritually, to become good leaders in the community and in all aspects of their lives."
In his first season at Mossy Creek, Griffin led the Eagles to a 35-20 record and a 15-6 mark in the South Atlantic Conference. The success followed in 2007, as he coached the Eagles to a 36-20 mark, a South Atlantic Conference Tournament title, and a berth in the NCAA Division II South regional tournament.
The Eagles grabbed their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years with an incredible run to the SAC Tournament title. C-N won three games on "Championship Sunday," including 12-inning thriller over rival-Tusculum in the championship game to earn the SAC's automatic NCAA bid.
In 2008, the Eagles finished with a 43-18 mark, setting the school record for wins in a season. C-N earned its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II South Regional Tournament, beating Stillman and Tusculum. The Eagles finished the season ranked #27 in the Ping Baseball Poll and #29 by Collegiate Baseball.
During the 2009 season, Coach Griffin won his 300th game in the second game of the season, beating Augusta State. The Eagles finished the regular season at 24-21. The Eagles were ranked as high as #12 in the Collegiate Baseball poll during the season.
In 2010, the Eagles finished 31-18 overall and 15-9 in conference play, earning another trip to the conference tournament. The Eagles would rank as high as #28 during the season in the Collegiate Baseball Poll. In 2012, the Eagles finished at 28-26 and earned a trip to the conference tournament, where they would finish 2-2. Kyle Koeneman was selected the Player of the Year in the conference and earned first team All-American honors. Griffin earned his 400th win on April 19th against Catawba College.
The 2013 campaign had Carson-Newman going 7-6 against nationally-ranked competition and making an appearance in the SAC title game as a six seed before falling to LMU.
Carson-Newman finished with a winning record in 2015 (25-21) for the first time since 2012 (28-26) while finishing at least four games over .500 for the first time since 2010 (31-18). Four Eagles were honored by the SAC on postseason rosters. The four honorees are the most by the Eagles since 2010. Vince Apicella earned All-Region honors from the NCBWA and ABCA after finishing fourth in Division II with 111 strikeouts.
The 2016 regular season was a year filled with milestones for Griffin. The skipper picked up his 300th win at Carson-Newman at Brevard on March 5 as the Eagles swept the Tornados to become the sixth SAC coach to earn 300 wins at one school. As the Eagles clinched the No. 2 seed in the SAC Baseball Championships at Tusculum on April 24, Griffin earned his 500th career coaching victory. C-N became the No. 2 seed in the SAC Baseball Championships for the first time since 2008.
In 2017, the mentor led the Eagles back to the SAC Baseball Championships title round as C-N won four elimination games before falling to second-seeded Lincoln Memorial in the title round. His group placed three members on all-conference teams. With 22 home victories, the club matched the 2002 team for home wins in single-season in program history.
The success of the team rolled along in 2018 as the team matched the program record for league victories in a season with the 1999 group that won 16. The pitching staff punched out 425 batters on the season to pass the 1999 unit for first with 417, a mark that is 10th in SAC history. Four different players earned postseason all-conference honors while a fifth was named to the all-tournament team. Ryan Victory won the SAC's Elite 20 award and Dillon Cate was named a second-team Academic All-American.
The development of third baseman Brett Langhorne and pitcher Will Gardner saw the duo be selected in 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Langhorne was selected in the 10th round, 292nd overall by the Atlanta Braves and Gardner was selected in the 21st round, 624th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carson-Newman is one of three schools in Division II to produce multiple draft selections through 21 picks of this year’s draft – all have two. Tampa and Nova Southeastern are the other two. It marked the fourth time in the history of the school that Carson-Newman has had two players selected in the same draft class as it had been 11 years since the Eagles had a player drafted. Langhorne holds the distinction of the highest drafted position player in the history of the school besting first baseman Samuel Roberts who was taken in the 14th round in the 1975 draft.
Griffin had been an assistant with the Eagles on two different occasions, serving from 1998-2001, and then again from 2003-2005.
In his first stint, Griffin worked with the catchers, infielders and outfielders and was an assistant coach on the 1999 team that won the SAC title and advanced to the NCAA Division II World Series.
At Carson-Newman, he has coached and recruited 58 All-SAC players, five SAC Player of the Years, 25 All-South Region selections, and six NCAA Division II All-Americans. He has also coached 20 players who have gone on to play professional baseball. One of his former players, Steve Cishek, just finished his sixth in Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals after playing his first five and a half years with the Florida Marlins. Steve is only the second former Eagle to play in the big leagues.
Griffin has also authored an instructional catching baseball video, "Catch It, Block It, Throw It." A regular instructional speaker at various coaching clinics and camps, he has been the featured speaker at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Orlando, Florida in 2007 and Anaheim, California in 2012.
In 2002, Griffin took over the reins of the Morristown East High School baseball program, completely turning around the Hurricanes program. He led East to a 24-16 overall record and the district championship. For his efforts, Griffin was named the Northeast Tennessee Coach of the Year. He returned to the Eagles program in 2003 where he helped coach the Eagles to another SAC championship and a 31-21 record, serving as the recruiting coordinator, hitting coach, and coaching the infielders and catchers.
Prior to his arrival at Carson-Newman, Griffin was the head coach at Tusculum College for eight years where he compiled a 184-178-2 record.
Under his guidance, the Pioneers earned four straight trips to the NAIA District 24 Tournament, capturing the 1995 TVAC Tournament title and making their first-ever regional tournament appearance at the 1995 NAIA Mid-South Regional.
Griffin also led Tusculum to a school-record 34 wins in that same season. He coached 21 All-Conference selections, two Player of the Year selections, and two All-Americans.
A native of Roxbury, New Jersey, Griffin was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Tennessee Wesleyan, in 1989. Griffin was a four-year starting catcher for the TWC Bulldogs and was a three-time All-TVAC selection and a member of the All-District team in 1988. He was named Most Valuable Player after his Junior and Senior years and Best Defensive Player following his Freshman and Sophomore years. In October 2012, Griffin was named to the Tennessee Wesleyan Sports Hall of Fame. He earned a B.S. degree in Health and Physical Education from TWC in 1988 and completed his M.S. degree in Education from Tusculum in 2005. Griffin, 51, and his wife Christy are the parents of three girls, twins Carlin and Cori and Delaney.
Griffin is the sixth head coach in the modern era of Eagles baseball (1924-present). The program is rich in history. The Eagles have won five SAC regular-season titles (1991, 1993, 1999, 2002 and 2003) and four SAC Tournament titles (1992, 1993, 1997 and 2007). C-N has advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times (1999, 2002, 2007 and 2008) and has played in three World Series (1965, 1993 and 1999).
C-N claimed the 1965 NAIA National Championship, the school's first national title of any kind.