What others are saying about Gene Stephenson’s Wichita State career

06/05/2013 9:28 AM

08/06/2014 1:59 AM

"It’s really kind of a sad day for college baseball in the Midwest. If you look at things over the span of years, obviously in the Valley, Wichita was the power. But all around the Midwest, you’ve seen people in the last 10-15 years make a commitment to baseball, and under Gene they were certainly one of the first and foremost to do that."

Keith Guttin, Missouri State coach

"You’re going to need a good leader to make sure those kids are going to come and play baseball. You have to get kids who want to play ball. That’s what we had, everybody 1-through-25 was a ballplayer. I don’t think there’s anything better you can say about a guy than he’s a ballplayer.

Koyie Hill, WSU player, 1998-2000

"The immense respect you have for a man that has done what he’s done for the game, for a university, for a town, I don’t think you can overstate it. You’ll miss Gene Stephenson dearly in that town."

Aaron Shafer, WSU pitcher, 2006-08

“I consider them all family at this point. Gene did a lot for me, as did Brent (Kemnitz), JT (Jim Thomas). ...It kind of shaped me as a baseball player and a person, and it taught me a lot of things."

Chris Wimmer, WSU player, 1990-92

"You put the bar so high, and you don’t reach it, people start doubting your coaching ability. I think Gene is still a great coach, there’s no question. I would hate to be the person to have to make the final decision in the whole deal, I would hate to be in his shoes."

Greg Brummett, WSU pitcher, 1986-89

"Wichita State baseball is one of the greatest things in the city. I think it might excite some people with some new blood. People might be excited to see what might be different. Whoever comes in there and takes over after Gene is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill, and I think expectations will be just as high for them as they were for Gene."

Adam Peterson, WSU pitcher, 1999-2002

"Certainly when you have someone of that caliber, that’s quite an icon to have that’s coaching in your league."

Jack Watkins, associate MVC commissioner

"His story is an awesome story, it’s a story you could make a movie about. He has done enough for the university, for college baseball, for the city, that he deserves for his legacy to be strong, to remain and even get bigger."

Zach Sorensen, WSU player, 1996-98

"There was a right way. At the end of the day, if you want to fire Gene Stephenson, you go ahead and fire him. But you let him go on a Gene Stephenson Farewell Tour, and the last day of the year you have Gene Stephenson Day where you celebrate this man. He built this program from the ground up and he is Wichita State baseball. You don’t just kick him out."

Mike Pelfrey, WSU pitcher, 2003-05

"Part of me wished he would have left to take the (Oklahoma) job just for people to realize what they had and how hard it is to compete in the Midwest. If anything, it just created a monster by being that good for that period of time. It’s almost impossible to maintain that kind of year-after-year dominance."

Jaime Bluma, WSU pitcher, 1991-94

"Being someone who played the game in Wichita and grew up around it, it was every kid’s team to play there and play for Gene and Brent and the program."

Nate Robertson, WSU pitcher, 1997-99

"Nobody’s perfect. I think that he has touched the lives of thousands of young men in a positive way that made a difference in those men. He has contributed so much to that university, and built (Eck Stadium) from a pile of dirt to what it is today."

Rudy Rodriguez, WSU fan

— Compiled by Jeffrey Lutz

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