|FIU Head Baseball Coach
Henry "Turtle" Thomas
Birthdate: January 17, 1953
Hometown: High Point, N.C.
Children: Kevin, Kristen and Keith
Alma Mater: High Point 1975
FIU began a new era on June 14, 2007 with the hiring of arguably the top assistant coach and recruiter in all of college baseball. It was a
day more than three decades in the making for a man who honed his skills at some of college baseball’s elite programs, bringing them
19-consecutive top-10 recruiting classes, 14 College World Series appearances and two national championships.
It was a day Henry “Turtle” Thomas patiently waited for and rightfully earned.
“After 30 years of coaching college baseball, I’m very excited to lead the FIU baseball program,” Thomas said. “I’m very appreciative of
(FIU) President Mitch Maidique and Athletic Director Pete Garcia, that those two gentlemen have given me this opportunity.
“We look forward to making the FIU community excited about baseball again and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Some of the most-successful programs in college baseball’s recent history grace Thomas’ resume, including Clemson, Georgia Tech,
Miami, Louisiana State and his most recent stop, at 2007 CWS participant, Arizona State.
“We are very fortunate to be able to hire a coach as talented as Turtle Thomas,” Garcia said. “He knows the game, he’s the best recruiter
in the country and he knows South Florida. He will bring excitement and interest to FIU baseball.
“The journey to Omaha begins today.”
It’s a journey that Thomas has made on 14 occasions at four different schools. He has coached in more College World Series than any
active head coach.
Thomas’ goals for FIU are twofold: to get the community involved and to win, on the field and in the classroom. Simple tasks? No. But the
untiring work ethic that belies his placid demeanor assures that he will accomplish his goals. He is committed to getting the job done.
In his first semester at FIU, 19 players earned a 3.0 grade-point average or better, including four on the Dean’s List. The effort and work
ethic Thomas helped instill on the field was transferred to the classroom, resulting in a combined team GPA of 3.04, a first in the
He opened the doors of University Park Stadium on January 18 for the Tamiami Park Little League Opening Ceremonies and addressed
thousands of kids on the 128 teams, and their parents, inviting them to become a part of the FIU Baseball Family.
His staff has already compiled a list of all the civic and youth organizations in South Florida to set up speaking engagements.
“FIU is hiring the hardest-working coach I’ve ever been around,” Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy said. “He’s relentless and he’s a
good person. He is a legend in college baseball for his recruiting efforts and great coaching at winning programs.
“Everything Turtle Thomas is around turns to gold. I feel FIU will be as good a program as they’ve ever been with him there, and will
reach new heights.”
Thomas played a major role in the Sun Devils’ success in the 2007 season, helping lead the team to a No. 3 national ranking. The Sun
Devils ended the season with the nation’s third-best team batting average (.345) and slugging percentage (.531), and ranked second in
scoring (9.4/game). ASU also led the country in fielding percentage (.979).
Prior to helping ASU return to Omaha, Thomas served as recruiting coordinator and hitting coach at LSU from 2000-06, winning a
national title with the Tigers his first year on the job.
“Pete Garcia has made a great choice in Turtle Thomas,” legendary college baseball coach and current LSU Athletic Director Skip
Bertman said. “He is tremendous as a one-on-one coach. It can’t be a coincidence that Turtle left a championship program like Miami
and came to LSU the next year and helped us win a championship.
“Turtle will be a winner. There is no doubt about that.”
The Tigers went to the CWS two more times during Thomas’ tenure (2003 and ‘04) and he oversaw an impressive offensive and
Catcher Brad Cresse led the nation in home run (30) and RBI (106) on his way to winning the Johnny Bench Award in 2000. That same
year, Mike Fontenot was named SEC Freshman of the Year, helping LSU set SEC records for hits and doubles, and a school-record .340
average. Shortstop Aaron Hill was named the 2003 SEC Player of the Year and outfielder Jon Zeringue won the honor the following
In 2004, LSU led the SEC in seven offensive categoris, including average (.333) and on-base percentage (.400). Overall, LSU led the
SEC in hits, runs and RBI in four of Thomas’ seven years in Baton Rouge.
In 1988 he was named assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Miami by Hall of Fame coach Ron Fraser. The Hurricanes reached
the CWS nine times in Thomas’ 12 years in Coral Gables, winning a National Championship in 1999, and going to Omaha six-straight
seasons (1994-99). From ‘96-98, UM posted a collective .334 batting average, .557 slugging percentage and scored more than nine
runs per game. The ‘96 Hurricanes set a school record with a team batting average of .343.
“You have a great guy in Turtle Thomas,” said the legendary Fraser. “He can recruit and he knows where to find the best guys. He can
coach and he is such a hard worker. This is great for FIU and they are lucky to have him. He helped our program at Miami so much when
he was there.”
Thomas began his Division I coaching career at Clemson, where he spent eight seasons and helped the Tigers reach the 1980 CWS.
He moved on to Georgia Tech and spent two years as the assistant head coach under current Miami head coach Jim Morris before
heading to Coral Gables.
While his experience and expertise as a coach are impressive, Thomas’ skills as a recruiter are unmatched. He had 19-straight
recruiting classes ranked among Collegiate Baseball’s Top 10 at Miami and LSU. He is the only recruiting coordinator in the nation who
has signed the No. 1 rated class four times, and he has never had a class rated lower than ninth over the past 19 years. Thomas has
also signed the second-rated class four times. Every class he signed at LSU ranked in the Top 6, including his 2004 class, which was
considered the best in the country.
The roll call of major leaguers Thomas recruited and coached numbers more than 60. The list includes Charles Johnson, Alex
Fernandez, Pat Burrell, Danny Graves, Alex Cora, Aubrey Huff, Aaron Hill, Jason Michaels and Brad Hawpe.
A 1975 graduate of High Point (N.C.) College, Thomas earned a master’s degree from UNC-Greensboro in 1978. He was a four-year
letterman at catcher, playing two seasons at Campbell University before completing his final two undergraduate years at High Point.
Thomas is married to the former Maria Carmen Nateman, and they have three children, Kevin, Kristen and Keith.
THOMAS IN OMAHA
No active head coach has coached at the College World Series as many times as Turtle Thomas. Thomas has been to 14 as an
assistant coach with four different teams, putting him at the top of a distinguished list.
Active Head Coaches In The CWS
Coach, School AC HC Total
Turtle Thomas, FIU 14 0 14
Mark Marquess, Stanford 0 13 13
Mike Martin, FSU 0 12 12
Augie Garrido, Texas 0 12 12
Gene Stephenson, Wichita State 5 7 12
Jim Morris, Miami 0 10 10
Ron Polk, Miss. St. 1 8 9
George Horton, Oregon 3 6 9
AC-Assistant Coach; HC-Head Coach
TO THE SHOW
Thomas has brought in 19 straight top 10 recruiting classes at four different schools. His eye for talent and prowess at developing that
talent speaks for itself. Oftentimes it isn’t a matter of if his signees develop into talented pros but rather, when.
Below is a list of Major Leaguers Thomas coached at Miami and LSU:
Roy Corcoran, pitcher
Mike Fontenot, infielder
Brad Hawpe, outfielder
Aaron Hill, infielder
Trey Hodges, pitcher
Ryan Jorgensen, catcher
Todd Linden, outfielder
Brian Tallet, pitcher
Ryan Theriot, infielder
Brian Wilson, pitcher
Pat Burrell, outfielder
Alex Cora, infielder
Jorge Fabregas, catcher
Alex Fernandez, pitcher
Danny Graves, pitcher
Bobby Hill, infielder
Aubrey Huff, outfielder
Charles Johnson, catcher
Jason Michaels, outfielder
*also signed Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez
• Two National Titles (1999, Miami; 2000, LSU)
• 14 College World Series Appearances
• Coached, recruited and signed dozens of future Major Leaguers
• 19 Top 10 recruiting classes
2007-present FIU - Head Coach
2007 Arizona State - Asst. Coach/Recruting Coordinator
• College World Series appearance
• Ranked second in the NCAA in scoring (9.4 runs/game), third in slugging pct. (.531) and third in
batting average (.345)
2000-06 LSU - Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coord.
• 2000 National Champions
• Three CWS appearances (2000, ‘03 and ‘04)
• Led SEC in hits, runs and RBI in four of seven seasons
• SEC records for hits and doubles in 2000
• School-record .340 average in 2000
• One Johnny Bench Award Winner
• Two SEC Players of the Year
• One SEC Freshman of the Year
1988-99 Miami - Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
• 1999 National Champions
• Nine CWS appearances (1988, ‘89, ‘92, ‘94, ‘95, ‘96,
‘97, ‘98, ‘99)
1986-87 Georgia Tech - Asst. Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
1978-85 Clemson - Assistant Head Coach
• 1980 College World Series
1977 T. Wingate Andrews HS, High Point, N.C.
1974-78 High Point American Legion, High Point, N.C.
1975 Bachelor’s (High Point)
1978 Master’s (UNC-Greensboro)