Ricky Griffin will be the first to admit that, when he started coaching at Argyle more than 12 years ago, receiving a national award was not on his to-do list.
But after guiding the Eagles to consecutive Class 4A championships and a 77-1-1 record over the past two years, Griffin has earned one of the top honors in the country. Argyle’s longtime skipper was one of 11 coaches named National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association on Thursday afternoon.
The award recognizes coaches from high school all the way to NCAA Division I. Griffin’s accolade came in the High School Division II level.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and [while] I’m very excited to be named a national coach of the year, when I got into this, my end goal was not to someday be national coach of the year,” Griffin said. “I wanted to hopefully have an impact on some kids’ lives and hopefully develop some kids that go on to become good husbands and good fathers. That’s why I do it. I get to go to work every day and enjoy what I do. An award like this is just icing on the cake.”
By winning the 4A title this month, Griffin’s Eagles became the first team in UIL history to follow up an undefeated, state-championship season with another title. Argyle went 37-0 in 2018 before going 40-1-1 this spring.
“Obviously it’s very humbling,” Griffin said. “I understand completely that the award happens because of some really good baseball players and some really good assistant coaches. I’m just the one lucky enough to get the accolade. It’s certainly the efforts of my players and my coaches.”
Argyle’s star-studded 2019 senior class, which included seven Division I recruits, went a combined 130-10-2 in four years under Griffin. Since 2016, Argyle has won a staggering 91.5% of its games.
“I’m not creating some baseball magic,” Griffin said. “I think I’m able to make the season enjoyable for the kids and I’m able to create good relationships with them. They feel like they want to succeed for themselves and for me as a coach. That’s maybe more of what I do than be this amazing baseball teacher — and I’ve told them that. They’re great baseball players when I get them.”
Griffin also credited one of his assistants, Steve Stinson, as well as the rest of his coaching staff, for helping him achieve the award.
“Coach Stinson brings so much baseball knowledge to the team. I’d be remiss without giving him tons of credit for this,” Griffin said. “My assistant coaches are amazing.”
Griffin will be honored at the annual ABCA convention, which will be held Jan. 2-5 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Eagles will return several key players next season, including Cade Merka, Bo Hogeboom and Baylor commit Alex Gonzalez. Tate Van Poppel, the son of former major league pitcher Todd Van Poppel, will return after going 8-0 with a 1.77 ERA.
“You don’t get this award unless you have the success,” Griffin said. “You don’t have the success unless you have good players, good coaching and, obviously, the support from the community and school district. Our facilities are second to none, as far as our baseball field goes. You can’t have success without all those pieces in place.”