Gary Adams retired as the head coach of UCLA Baseball on June 30, 2004 after 30 seasons at the helm of one of the most successful and respected collegiate programs in NCAA history.
Adams established himself UCLA's all-time winningest head baseball coach, totaling a 984-823-7 record in 30 seasons. Adams helped cement his place in college baseball history with career victory No. 1,000 on March 13, 1999, at Arizona
Coaching in the Pac-10 Conference, among the nation's most competitive leagues, Adams helped lead UCLA to top-four finishes in 18 of 30 seasons. That total includes four conference titles - 1976, 1979, 1986 and 2000 - and five second-place finishes.
Adams guided the Bruins to NCAA Regional appearances eight times since 1990. His UCLA teams reached the NCAA Regional finals six times and the College World Series once. Adams' first playoff team at UCLA, the 1979 Bruins, lost to eventual NCAA Champion Cal State Fullerton. It would take 18 years and three more trips to the NCAA Regional Final before the Bruins finally broke through to the College World Series.
After losing its first game at the Midwest Regional, the 1997 team battled back to win five in a row (including two over Oklahoma State on its home field) to advance to the College World Series. The Bruins then lost two heartbreakers in Omaha, losing 7-3 in 12 innings to Miami and 7-5 to Mississippi State. In 2000, UCLA advanced from the Oklahoma City Regional, but fell to eventual NCAA Champion Louisiana State in the Super Regional at Baton Rouge. In his final season, the 2004 Bruins again advanced to the Oklahoma City Regional, this time finishing second after failing to defeat Florida twice on the final day.
Under Adams, the UCLA baseball program enjoyed unparalleled success in sending athletes to major league organizations. Led by Phillies' first-rounder Chase Utley, the Bruins set a collegiate record with 12 players selected in the 2000 amateur draft. In all, 17 student-athletes have been chosen in the first round. His 2004 squad set a school record after ten players, nine of whom were drafted, signed professional contracts upon the season's conclusion.
Two former Bruins have won MLB's Rookie of the Year award under Adams -- the Dodgers' Eric Karros in 1992 (National League) and the Royals' Bob Hamelin in 1994 (American League). A total of 37 former Bruins from the Adams Era have played in the major leagues, including nine from the 1986 Pac-10 championship team.
Adams' philosophy for the baseball program, entitled "The Bruin Way," never wavered throughout his successful 30-year career. An aggressive, running style of offense on the field combined with strong academic emphasis off the diamond has characterized UCLA baseball for three decades. Adams personally monitored the academic progress of each student-athlete and set up mandatory tutoring sessions. As a result, three Bruins - Don Slaught (1979), Tim Leary (1979), and Mike Magnante (1988) - have been honored as Academic All-Americans.
Another facet of UCLA's emergence as an acclaimed baseball program has been the development of Jackie Robinson Stadium. Adams was a driving force in the construction of the Bruins' home park, which opened in 1981 with an exhibition game between the Bruins and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Adams played second base for the Bruins in 1959-60 and '62. In 1960 he formed UCLA's double play combination with his twin brother, Gene. After missing the 1961 season due to a knee injury, Gary was the team captain and MVP as a senior in 1962, leading the squad with a .265 batting average. He returned to Westwood in the fall of 1974, following five seasons at UC Irvine. In those five seasons, the Anteaters won 73 percent of their games under Adams and captured the 1973 and 1974 NCAA Division II Championships. Adams was named District 8 Coach of the Year both seasons and was selected Division II Coach of the Year in 1974.
Adams earned his degree in 1962 and received his Master's in Physical Education from UCLA two years later. While working towards his graduate degree, he began his coaching career as a varsity assistant and head frosh baseball coach. Adams spent the next four years (1965-1968) as an assistant coach at UC Riverside, then ascended to the top job at Irvine in 1970.
Over the winter and summer breaks, Adams ran the UCLA Baseball School at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
The Adams family built family tradition into the UCLA baseball program. Gary's twin, Gene, was UCLA's everyday shortstop in 1960-61 and Gene's son, Mannie, was an infielder for UCLA between 1988 and 1990.
Adams was born on September 4, 1939 in Hamilton, Ohio. He is married to the former Sandy Henkel, and they have two daughters, Jessica and Audrey. Adams also has three daughters from a previous marriage - Kristy, Kim, and Kathy - and is a proud grandfather of four.