SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Many people in the Seton Hall community will remember Michael Sheppard Sr. as a standout baseball coach and a family man.
They will also remember Sheppard Sr. for his motto, “Never lose your hustle.”
Sheppard Sr., 82, died on Saturday, April 6, Seton Hall University announced on its website.
“Mike Sheppard will forever be synonymous with Seton Hall Baseball and the impact he had here for over 60 years is indelible,” said Seton Hall Vice President and Director of Athletics Pat Lyons in an article on the Seton Hall website about Sheppard’s passing.
“While we mourn his passing today, his spirit will always remain with us and lives on through the lives of the hundreds of student athletes he coached and mentored,” Lyons said.
Sheppard Sr. was employed at the university for more than 60 years. He served as the university’s head baseball coach from 1973 to 2003 and had 28 winning seasons and 27 postseason berths with 15 Big East tournament appearances.
He was named the Big East Coach of the Year in 1985, 1987 and 1989, leading the Seton Hall Pirates to the conference tournament title in 1987. His teams went to the NCAA Tournament 12 times, and the Pirates went to the College World Series in 1974 and 1975.
Eighty of the students that Sheppard Sr. coached went on to sign professional contracts, with 30 of them going on to play in the major leagues. He coached MLB stars Craig Biggio, Rick Cerone, Jason Grilli, Matt Morris, Mo Vaughn and John Valentin.
Sheppard Sr.’s sons all coach baseball: his oldest son Mike is the head coach at Seton Hall Prep; his middle son, John is the head coach at Morristown-Beard High School; and his youngest son, Rob is the head coach at Seton Hall University.
All three of Sheppard Sr.’s sons and his two daughters Susan and Kathleen graduated from Seton Hall. He and his wife Phyllis are members of the Seton Hall University Athletics Hall of Fame.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.