In Play with Tom Markowski

Grand Ledge baseball coach Pat O'Keefe keeps on going strong

Baseball   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

Grand Ledge – Pat O’Keefe can’t imagine not donning a baseball uniform.

O’Keefe is in his 48th season as baseball coach at Grand Ledge and at age 70 doesn’t see his coaching career ending anytime soon.

On May 2 O’Keefe registered career victory No. 1,200 as his Comets defeated Lansing Eastern. His career record stands at 2,009-305-1. Grand Ledge is 19-1 with four weeks left in the regular season.

O’Keefe said he’s not interested in retirement as this stage. He’d rather be coaching the 19 players he has on varsity and playing with his 15 grandchildren.

“If you don’t have enough money, retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” he said. “I can’t travel the world.

“I’ve never missed wearing a uniform in 63 years. I don’t know anything else. I don’t’ play golf.

I still enjoy it. The kids still respond.”

From Little League to college (Central Michigan) to playing professionally (spent four seasons in the Houston Astros organization), O’Keefe has been around the horn. He started coaching at Grand Ledge in 1967, took a year off for spring training in ’68 and hasn’t missed a season since. His teams won two state titles (Class A in 1977 and ‘95) and twice his teams lost in the title game (Class A in 1993, Division 1 in 2001).

O’Keefe also coached football at Grand Ledge until he retired from that position in 2007. The Comets won the Division title in 2000, 19-14 over Utica Eisenhower.

O’Keefe is a virtual dead heat with Blissfield’s Larry Tuttle for top spot on the state’s all-time victory list. Tuttle earned his 1,200th victory on May 5. Tuttle got No. 1,201 last Saturday as the Royals defeated Detroit Country Day, 7-2. Tuttle has been coaching since 1968 and has guided Blissfield to seven state titles.

Oddly enough, the two coaches have never coached against each other.

“Why would I play him?” O’Keefe said. “He’s Class C. We’re Class A. We don’t have anything to gain.”