Topper baseball to retire Murrie's jersey number

Posted on January 14, 2015 12:14 PM

Former WKU Baseball head coach Joel Murrie, who guided the Hilltoppers to 815 wins in 26 seasons (1980-2005) at the helm of the program, will have his No. 36 jersey number retired on March 8 prior to WKU’s series finale against Ohio State at Nick Denes Field.

He is the father-in-law of Katherine Nealey Murrie, the former Kentucky girls state golf champion who is one of the charter members of the Cougar Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame to be inducted at Logan County High School on Feb. 2.

Murrie’s 815 wins are more than any WKU coach in any single sport and he is only one of four coaches in program history with more than 350 victories on The Hill, joining Hilltopper legends E.A. Diddle (759 men’s basketball, 232 baseball, 38 football) and Paul Sanderford (365 women’s basketball) along with current volleyball coach Travis Hudson (497). Murrie’s No. 36 jersey will join Dr. Jack Glasser’s No. 14 as the only two retired numbers in WKU Baseball’s 96-year history.

“I think it’s an absolute honor and a privilege to be able to do this for such a distinguished person to not only the WKU community but the Bowling Green community,” said current WKU head coach Matt Myers. “Murrie was here for 20-plus years and won 800-plus games, which is very difficult in today’s day of coaching. He had an amazing impact on this program for a couple of decades and I think it’s a tremendous honor to retire his number next to Dr. Jack Glasser’s.”

The 2012 WKU Athletic Hall of Fame inductee guided WKU to three-straight Ohio Valley Conference titles (1980-82), a pair of Sun Belt Conference championships (1985, 1988) and a pair of NCAA Regional appearances (1980, 2004). He was a two-time OVC Coach of the Year (1980-81) and SBC Coach of the Year (1985, 2002) and developed over 80 players that went on to either sign or get drafted professionally. Six of his players, including WKU’s all-time runs (215) and doubles (68) leader and 2000 World Series champion Chris Turner (NY Yankees), reached the major league ranks.

During Murrie’s 26-year tenure WKU won 40 or more games four times, including a program best 47-13-1 mark in 1980 where the Tops advanced to their first NCAA Regional in school history. WKU defeated Vanderbilt and New Orleans for its first postseason wins before being ousted by host Florida State in the Regional Championship Game. His leadership for the Tops in his first season earned him NCAA South Region Coach of the Year honors. Murrie returned WKU to NCAA Regional play after winning the 2004 SBC Tournament and the Tops blanked top-seeded host Ole Miss 1-0 before being eliminated by Tulane and Washington later in regional.

Murrie first came to WKU as a graduate assistant in 1978 after playing collegiately at Florida for two seasons. He received his master’s degree from WKU and also taught physical education in addition to his coaching on The Hill.

Murrie’s jersey retirement presentation will take place near home plate in front of the grandstands at Nick Denes Field before the scheduled 1 p.m. (CT) contest against the Buckeyes. For more information on WKU Baseball, follow the program on Twitter at @WKUBaseball

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