Former USC baseball player Aaron Boone is now an ESPN analyst for the College World Series. He talked today about playing for Mike Gillespie, who led UC Irvine to Omaha.
“I love Mike Gillespie. He was such a great coach, but just someone I looked up to, someone I admired. As a matter of fact, he wears No. 19. When I got drafted and signed, I wore No. 19 all throughout my minor league career. And then when I eventually got traded to the Yankees, I took 19, and a lot of that had to do with Mike Gillespie and his influence on my life and my career.
“When he left USC, it was a little bit bittersweet. I didn’t like how he was, you know, in a lot of ways shown the door. But to see him later in his career go take a program like UCI, where they have had sustained success under his watch now, and now getting the opportunity to go back to the College World Series, I’m so excited.
“As far as the little ball, I don’t ‑‑ we definitely did a lot of that and he was a very hands‑on coach as far as he was a micro manager and he controlled the pitch calling and we had ‑‑ I used to make fun of them because we had 30 different offensive signs. But, that said, I don’t remember us little‑balling so much, because, my sophomore, junior year, we had four or five guys that played in the big leagues. We had pretty strong teams. The bat situation isn’t what it is now, where I think little ball is a little more prevalent with each and every team. But he’s a guy that’s had a tremendous influence on my life.”