Lewis-Clark State College baseball coach Ed Cheff has been named the winner of the American Baseball Coaches’ Association’s 2009 Lefty Gomez Award for his lifetime contributions to amateur baseball.
Cheff will receive the award at the ABCA’s annual convention awards dinner, which will be held Jan. 3 at the San Diego Convention Center.
Cheff also will receive the ABCA’s NAIA Region I Coach of the Year award for 2008 at the awards dinner.
The Lefty Gomez Award is considered one of the most prestigious awards in all of amateur baseball. The award is presented by the ABCA each year to an individual who has “distinguished himself amongst his peers and has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally, and internationally.”
Cheff, who was selected to the ABCA’s Hall of Fame in 2006, has led LCSC to an unprecedented 16 NAIA World Series titles, far and away the most by any program at the NAIA level. Grand Canyon University, which no longer competes at the NAIA level, is second on the all-time title list with four.
Cheff is entering his 33rd year as coach at LCSC and has led the Warriors to all 16 of their titles in the last 25 years, including the last three. He has an all-time record of 1,627-410-2 at LCSC for a winning percentage of 79.9. His win total is the most accumulated by any coach at the NAIA level and is fourth overall on the all-division list, trailing only University of St. Francis coach Gordie Gillespie (1,783) Texas coach Augie Garrido (1,668) and Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson (1,653)
Under Cheff, the Warriors have appeared in 27 NAIA World Series and have an overall Series record of 116-31 for a 78.9 winning percentage. Along with the 16 titles, LCSC has five second-place finishes, three thirds and a fourth under Cheff.
The veteran coach has been named the NAIA Coach of the Year eight times and was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1994. He also was on the coaching staffs for the 1991 and â€™94 United States national teams, and the 1994 U.S. team which played in the World Championships.
At LCSC, Cheff has won at least 71 percent of his games every season. His best record, percentage wise, was 58-5 (92.1) in 2006, while his 1983 team posted the most wins at 69-7, which was his second-best winning percentage mark (90.79).
During 1982 to ’92, Cheff led LCSC to 11 consecutive national championship games, a feat unequalled by a collegiate team in any sport at any level. The program also has produced three NAIA National Players of the Year, including the last two.
Cheff, who also has coached in the Alaska Summer League with the Anchorage Bucs and Fairbanks Gold Panners, has had more than 100 of his former players go on to play professional baseball, including 14 at the Major League level.
The Lefty Gomez Award is named after a former major league pitcher who played for the New York Yankees during 1930-42 and the Washington Senators in 1943. Gomez was a 20-game winner four times, a seven-time All-Star, and the winning pitcher in the inaugural Major League All-Star Game. Following his baseball career, Gomez was a sought-after speaker because of his humor and personality.