Steve Peterson, the all-time winningest coach in Middle Tennessee baseball history, has passed away.
68-year old Peterson died at St. Thomas Hospital Wednesday night after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week.
Longtime friend Dick Palmer, the Voice of Blue Raider baseball, was clearly emotional as he told listeners of the passing of his friend:
Chip Walters says the Blue Raider community is in shock and deeply saddened by the loss of Coach Pete:
A family spokesperson indicated there will be a private funeral ceremony for family only; however, plans are underway for a Celebration of Life that will be open to the public. Time and date of the Celebration of Life is to be determined but likely will be either the end of March or early part of April.
Peterson is Middle Tennessee's all-time winningest baseball coach with a record of 791-637-3 in 25 years leading the program. Before taking over as head coach in 1988, Peterson served as an assistant coach to John Stanford for six seasons. He retired following the 2012 season after leading the program for a quarter of a century.
He was a creative genius. The legendary Ground Hog Luncheon has grown into a rallying of fans to start MTSU baseball each season. Funds raised from that luncheon help to cover improvement costs, but Coach Pete knew when major changes were needed . . .
The coach's prophesy of what was ahead in the coming MTSU baseball season through an interpretation of the ground hog's dream, built a strong following. In fact, it motivated others to go the extra mile . . .
Coach Pete was a regular on WGNS over the years, and that was from a 2012 broadcast of the Truman Show.
Under Peterson's direction the Blue Raiders won 11 regular-season conference championships, nine conference tournament championships and played in nine NCAA Regionals, including two as an at-large selection.
A great developer of talent, Peterson has 71 of his former players drafted into professional baseball with eight of them reaching the Major Leagues. A three-time Coach of the Year, Peterson produced eight conference players of the year and 10 All-Americans at Middle Tennessee. More than 30 of his players became high school baseball coaches.
Peterson is a member of five Halls of Fame, including the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the national baseball hall of fame in 2016.
Peterson is also a member of the Blue Raider Hall of Fame (2010), the Huntsville-Madison County (Ala.) Athletic Hall of Fame (2009), the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2007) and the Rutherford County Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame (2003).
Peterson's Blue Raider teams won 30 or more games 16 times. Peterson's teams won 40-plus four times, including a record-setting 2009 campaign when the squad posted a 44-18 record. The 44 wins are the most in school history.
Including his time as head coach at Roane State, Peterson amassed a 944-733-3 career record.
In addition to the numerous team accomplishments, Peterson's fund-raising efforts also elevated Blue Raider baseball. Events such as the annual Chuck Taylor Golf Tournament, the Groundhog Day Luncheon and the Grand Slam Fish Fry have become mainstays on calendars of Blue Raider baseball supporters across Middle Tennessee and have raised millions of dollars for the improvement of Blue Raider baseball. Reese Smith Jr. Field also has benefited from Peterson's fundraising abilities. He helped transform the park into a fan-friendly area by leading efforts for stadium renovation.
Peterson is survived by his wife, Rita, daughter Jill (Morgan) Wright, son John (Myranda) Peterson, daughter Jenny (Brock) East and several loving grandchildren.