IRVINE, Calif. – George Horton, best known for known for guiding national power Cal State Fullerton to the 2004 National Championship and for resurrecting a dormant University of Oregon baseball program, has joined the Orange County Riptide as a Special Assistant. Horton’s duties with the OC Riptide will be broad in scope assisting in various aspects including player development, mentoring the coaching staff and enhancing organizational growth.
“We are so excited to welcome legendary coach George Horton into the OC Riptide family,” General Manager Moe Geoghegan said. “Coach Horton will offer guidance on many aspects of the on-the-field baseball operations. Coach’s main goal will be to ensure the players’ health and safety with special attention to the pitching staff. Coach Horton expressed to me he is excited to pass along his wealth of knowledge to our young coaching staff. Coach Horton will also help in some areas of summer recruiting and ultimately enhance the Riptide roster and brand.”
In his combined 28 seasons as a collegiate head baseball coach, George Horton amassed a career record 1,091-546-2 (.666) record. He is a member of a number of Halls of Fame including the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), Cal State Fullerton Athletic Department twice (Assistant Coach on the 1995 National Championship team and as Head Coach), California Community Colleges Baseball Coaches Association and Downey High School.
“It is with great pleasure that the OC Riptide has asked me to come on board and assist in every area possible to elevate an already terrific organization as well as elevating the entire California Collegiate League quality,” Horton said. “Hopefully my involvement will aid the Riptide’s leadership, staff, coaches and players in many areas. It’s exciting to know that I can possibly help the young, hungry players and coaches within the ball club.”
Horton’s roots run deep within Southern California and Orange County. A standout baseball player at Downey High School, Horton played baseball at Cerritos College from 1972-1973 and won a state championship there in 1973. As a player and later as a young assistant coach at Cerritos, Horton received coaching and mentoring from the legendary Wally Kincaid. (Kincaid led the Cerritos baseball team to a 678–163 win–loss record, 15 conference championships, and six state titles. He retired as the winningest coach in junior college history.)
After playing at Cerritos, Horton transferred to Cal State Fullerton and continued to play baseball under another legendary coach, Augie Garrido. His second season at Fullerton, the Titans advanced to play in the 1975 College World Series, the Titans’ first year as a Division 1 program.
Upon completion of his collegiate playing career, Horton immediately gravitated towards coaching. From 1976 to 1977, Horton served under Kincaid as an assistant coach at Cerritos College. He served as an assistant at LA Valley College for three season (1978–1980), back to Cerritos from 1980–1985 as an assistant and eventually took over the head coaching position at Cerritos College from 1985–1990. As the Head Coach at Cerritos, the Falcons won three state championships within the span of five seasons (1985, 1987 & 1989).
Cal State Fullerton drew Horton back as an assistant coach in 1990 to join Larry Cochell‘s staff. (Cochell would eventually win the College World Series in 1994 as the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.) In 1991, Augie Garrido returned to Cal State Fullerton after a brief stint as the head coach at the University of Illinois. Horton remained on Garrido’s staff through the 1996 season as an assistant. During that stretch, Horton was an integral part of the 1995 National Championship team that is widely considered the greatest college baseball team of all time.
In 1997, Augie Garrio took the head coaching job at the University of Texas and Horton was named head coach of the storied Cal State Fullerton Baseball program. Horton served as Titan Baseball’s skipper for 11 seasons (1997–2007). Under Horton’s direction, the Titans reached the post-season in all of Horton’s 11 seasons, the Super Regionals in seven seasons, the College World Series six times and won the 2004 National Championship. During his 11 seasons as head coach of the Titans, Horton compiled a record of 490–212–1. (.698)
In September 2007, the University of Oregon resurrected its baseball program starting in the 2009 season after being a club sport since 1982. Horton was tabbed to head the first team in 2009 in Eugene, Oregon. In Horton’s second season at the helm at Oregon, he led the Ducks to the NCAA Division I baseball Tournament for the first time since 1964. In his 11 years at Oregon, Horton compiled a record of 375–281–1, went to the post-season five times and the Super Regionals (2012) once.
“In speaking with college head coaches and professional scouts, many have suggested that if there was a Mount Rushmore of College Baseball Coaches, George Horton would be on it,” Guy Lemmon, OC Riptide Board of Directors member said. “What a great learning opportunity for our players, coaches and staff to have Coach Horton involved with the OC Riptide this summer. From our fans’ perspective, we expect his involvement will attract the best collegiate baseball players in the country who want to play on the west coast. His coaching career supports he is the very best as a mentor, coach and person for any player, coach or fan who knows and has spent time around college baseball.”
Horton earned the USA Baseball Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year Award after serving as the head coach for the 2016 Collegiate National Team and was a member of the U.S. coaching staff in 2012. In 2012, Team USA defeated Team Cuba in Cuba for the first time in history.
Horton’s ability to facilitate and develop players is unparalleled. Horton was the college head coach for 48 former players that have reached the Major Leagues. In addition to player development, as a head coach, Horton has seen over 60 colleagues and former players advance to become head baseball coaches and teachers at various levels.
“We are thrilled to add Coach Horton as a special assistant this summer,” OC Riptide Head Coach Connor Spencer said. “Coach Horton will be around our guys as much as his availability allows. I am honored to work alongside a Hall of Fame head coach that I so deeply respect. I told George that adding him to my staff would be like adding my former [UC Irvine] head coach Mike Gillespie. That is the level of respect I have for him. Coach Horton unquestionably brings priceless baseball knowledge, not only to our players, but to our coaching staff members as well. What a unique opportunity for our guys to learn from him this upcoming summer.”
George Horton is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton with a Bachelors in Kinesiology and holds a Masters in Education from Cal Lutheran. He and his wife, Francie, met in 1975 and were married in 1977 and currently reside in Yorba Linda, Calif. George and Francie have four daughters, nine grandchildren and a new Vizsla dog named Lucy.
OC Riptide fans can follow George Horton on Twitter (@G_Horton8).