Seven seasons after coaching his last game at Arizona, legendary former coach Andy Lopez, a two-time NCAA national champion and one of the winningest coaches in the sport’s history, will finally be inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.
His inclusion in the 2022 class was announced Wednesday by the College Baseball Foundation.
Lopez, who is retired in Tucson, coached the Wildcats for 14 seasons from 2002-15 with the highlight of his tenure the 2012 national title. He also had nearly 500 wins, 12 winning seasons, eight trips to the NCAA Tournament, three Super Regional appearances, two trips to the College World Series and one National Coach of the Year honor.
In addition to all of his accomplishments, Lopez continues to be a positive influence in the community.
He often takes part as a speaker at youth baseball camps.
Three years ago, Lopez was a keynote speaker for Tucson Youth Football & Spirit Federation Scholar-Athlete Banquet at the Casino del Sol banquet room.
He used his troublesome lifestyle as a youth to teach those in attendance the need to make right decisions.
Lopez’s keynote speech, which lasted about 25 minutes, touched on his wayward life when he was 14 to 16 ditching class, smoking pot, drinking alcohol and keeping that behavior from his Spanish-speaking parents when he was living in the Los Angeles area.
He went from that background to graduating from UCLA and later flourishing as a head coach.
Lopez discussed the “10-80-10” barometer for how people make something out of their lives through their decisions, including himself.
The lower 10 percent are people who have no motivation and discipline, 80 percent are average and living their everyday life normally without trying to meet challenges and the high 10 percent includes motivated people of excellence, right decisions and hard work.
“In 1971, I said to myself, ‘I want to be in the high 10 percentile,'” Lopez said to the crowd. “Do you know anybody who is in the low 10 percentile? Just think. Try to help that person get out of it. Thank God for the people that tried to help me get out of it.
“Do you know anybody that’s in the 80 percentile? Average. They think they’re going great. Help them. Push them. Push them up a little bit. Do you know anybody that’s in the high 10 percentile? They’re always on time. They’re always doing it right. They’re always getting after it. They are there before practice. They stay late after practice. … Do you know anybody like that? If you do, start hanging around them — a lot. Spend all your time with them. And if you’re in that high 10 percentile, don’t slip.”
After undergoing open-heart surgery, Lopez announced his retirement at 61 in 2015. He remains a commentator for Pac-12 games with the Pac-12 Networks.
The Wildcats’ 2012 championship season included Lopez’s team finished 38-17 in the regular season before going 10-0 in the postseason. It was just the second 10-0 run to a title in NCAA history.
Nearly one-third of the Wildcats’ 92 Major League Baseball products were coached by Lopez.
He is already a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
He is also the second coach in college baseball history to lead two different teams to a national title, also accomplishing the feat at Pepperdine in 1992. Lopez led the Waves, Wildcats, and Florida Gators to the College World Series, making him one of only three coaches to deliver a trio of programs
The three-time National Coach of the Year (1992, 1996 and 2012) led 17 of his 26 teams to the postseason, earned trips to the College World Series five times and was selected for nine conference Coach of the Year awards.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.