STILLWATER — One of the greatest hitters in college baseball history is returning to Oklahoma State as Robin Ventura has joined the Cowboy Baseball staff as a student assistant.
“Robin Ventura will enhance the lives of our players — his experiences inside the game of baseball as a college player, major league player and major league manager provide rare and unique perspective to all of us inside the program,” said OSU head coach Josh Holliday. “When Robin expressed interest in coming back and finishing his degree and joining our coaching staff, it was exciting. In addition to being an amazing player, Robin is an amazing person, teammate and leader who understands people and what a successful organization is all about. He brings people together and has a love for OSU that led him back to campus.
“What a statement about the value of finishing your degree and giving back to the school that helped launch your career. We have a very special coaching staff that will provide our players an amazing experience and a perspective on the game unlike any other in the country.”
Ventura has a decorated baseball resumé at the collegiate and professional levels. A three-time All-American at OSU from 1986-88, he is a National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball, where he was a six-time Gold Glove winning third baseman and was twice named an All-Star. Following his playing career, he spent five seasons as the manager of the Chicago White Sox.
“I’m really excited to do this,” Ventura said. “For me, I could do quite a few things, but Oklahoma State and Cowboy Baseball is special. I wanted to do and be somewhere that meant a lot to me, not just the baseball part — I love baseball and coaching and being a part of that — but being at Oklahoma State adds an extra layer of specialness to me.
“The people here are family to me, this place means a lot to me and the program means a lot to me. All of it came together with Josh’s help and Josh’s wishes and being with this staff and guys who I’ve known a long time makes it very exciting to be back here.”
During Ventura’s playing career at OSU, he established himself as one of college baseball’s all-time greats. In three seasons, he posted a career .428 batting average, a program record, and he is also the Cowboys’ career record holder in hits (329) and runs (300) while ranking second in doubles (71), home runs (68), total bases (608), RBIs (302) and slugging percentage (.792).
As a freshman in 1986, Ventura hit .469, the highest single-season batting average in program history, while smacking 21 home runs and collecting 96 RBIs.
The following season, Ventura turned in a .428 batting average to go along with 21 homers and 110 RBIs and set an NCAA record with a 58-game hitting streak as he led the Cowboys to the College World Series championship game.
Ventura capped his collegiate career in 1988 by carrying the Pokes to a school-record 61 wins while hitting .391 with 26 homers and 96 RBIs. He won the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy and also helped Team USA capture an Olympic gold medal at the ’88 summer games in Seoul, South Korea.
Ventura was a part of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2006, and he was inducted into the Cowboy Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 1988, Ventura was the 10th overall pick by the Chicago White Sox in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. He debuted in the big leagues in 1989 and spent 10 seasons with the White Sox, winning five Gold Gloves and earning a spot on the American League All-Star team in 1992.
Over his final six MLB seasons, Ventura played for the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, and he was named an All-Star with the Yankees in 2002.
Ending in 2004, Ventura’s big league career spanned 2,079 games, and he posted a .267 batting average to go along with 294 homers, 1,182 RBIs and 338 doubles. He hit 18 grand slams during his career, which is the fifth most in MLB history.
In 2011, Ventura was named manager of the Chicago White Sox, and he guided the club to 375 wins from 2012-2016. In his first season at the helm, he led the White Sox to a second-place finish in the American League Central, where they finished just three games behind division champion Detroit, and was a finalist for American League Manager of the Year honors.