John Kobs

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John Kobs
John Kobs.jpg
Sport(s) Baseball, basketball, ice hockey, football
Biographical details
Born (1898-08-21)August 21, 1898
Cavalier, North Dakota
Died January 26, 1968(1968-01-26) (aged 69)
East Lansing, Michigan
Playing career
1920–1921 Hamline
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1922–1924 Hamline
1925–1963 Michigan State
1925–1931 Michigan State
1924–1926 Michigan State
Head coaching record
Overall 574–377–16 (baseball)
9–19–1 (hockey)
11–26 (basketball)

John H. Kobs (August 21, 1898 – January 26, 1968) was an American athlete and coach. He was the head baseball coach at Michigan State University from 1925 to 1963 where he compiled a career record of 576–377–16. He also coached men's basketball (1924–1926) and ice hockey (1925–1931) at Michigan State. He has been inducted into both the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Early years[edit]

Kobs was born in Cavalier, North Dakota in 1898. He moved to Lake City, Minnesota while in grade school and attended Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.[1] At Hamline, he was a multi-sport athlete winning 13 varsity letters—four each in football and basketball, three in baseball, and two in track.[1] He was also named to Minnesota's All-State college teams for three years each in football and basketball and two years in baseball.[1] In January 1951, Kobs was selected as one of the top five all-around athletes in Minnesota during the first half of the 20th Century, as selected by a board of Minnesota sports experts.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

After graduating from Hamline University, he spent two years from 1922 to 1924 as a member of the school's coaching staff.[3]

In May 1924, Kobs was hired as the baseball and basketball coach at Michigan Agricultural College.[3] He was the head coach of the Aggies'/Spartans' baseball team for 38 years from 1925 to 1963. During his 38 years as head baseball coach at Michigan State, Kobs compiled a record of 574 wins, 377 losses and 16 ties for a winning percentage of .602.[2] He had only four losing seasons in 38 campaigns, and his 1954 team won the Big Ten Conference championship and the NCAA District No. 4 playoffs and finished third in the College World Series at Omaha, Nebraska.[2]

Kobs coached numerous athletes who went on to play Major League Baseball, including Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Robin Roberts, whom Kobs switched from a first baseman to a pitcher.[2] Other Major League players developed by Kobs include Bob Anderson, Ed Hobaugh, Jack Kralick, Hobie Landrith, Al Luplow, Ron Perranoski, Dick Radatz, and George Smith.

Kobs was a charter member, past president and past secretary of the Association of College Baseball Coaches.[1] He also served for many years as the secretary of the NCAA baseball rules committee.[2] He was a member and secretary of the United States Olympic Baseball Committee and coached two United States baseball teams in the Pan American Games.[2] After his final season as Michigan State's baseball coach, Kobs was honored by the National Rockne Club as the Collegiate Baseball Coach of the Year in March 1964.[4]

Kobs also coached the Michigan State men's basketball team for two years from 1924 to 1926, compiling a record of 11–26. He was also the Spartans' first ice hockey coach, holding the position for six years from 1925 to 1931 with a record of 9–19–1. In his early years at the school, he also coached freshman football and served as an assistant coach on the varsity football team.[2]

In June 1963, Kobs voluntarily resigned from active coaching at age 64 and became administrative assistant to Michigan State athletic director Biggie Munn.[5] In December 1966, Kobs announced that he would retire effective July 1, 1967, following 43 years of service to Michigan State.[6]

Death and posthumous honors[edit]

In January 1968, Kobs died of a heart attack at his home in East Lansing, Michigan, at age 69.[7] He was survived by his wife, Lauretta Kobs, and two sons, Robert Kobs and John Kobs, Jr.[2]

Two months after his death, Kobs was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame; his award was accepted by his widow, Lauretta Kobs at a dinner and ceremony at Cobo Hall in Detroit.[8][9] In March 1969, Michigan State's Board of Trustees approved naming the university's baseball field "John Kobs Field" in honor of Kobs. The field was dedicated between games of a doubleheader against Wisconsin on May 10, 1969.[10] The field and stadium are now known as Drayton McLane Baseball Stadium at John H. Kobs Field. The field remains named after Kobs, and the stadium facility is named after Houston Astros owner and Michigan State alumni Drayton McLane.

Kobs also posthumously inducted the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 as part of the second group of inductees.[11] He has also been inducted into the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame,[1] and the Hall of Fame of the American Association of College Baseball Coaches.[12]

Head coaching record[edit]


1925: 9–5 –1 (.633)
1926: 13–7–0 (.650)
1927: 13–8–0 (.619)
1928: 11–7–0 (.611)
1929: 12–11–1 (.521)
1930: 16–6–0 (.727)
1931: 13–9–1 (.587)
1932: 10–12–2 (.458)
1933: 13– 7–0 (.650)
1934: 10–11–1 (.477)
1935: 11–9–1 (.548)
1936: 13–7–0 (.650)
1937: 16–11–0 (.593)
1938: 15–9–0 (.625)
1939: 13–10–0 (.565)
1940: 12–8–2 (.591)
1941: 13–10–0 (.565)
1942: 13–11–1 (.540)
1943: 9–7–0 (.563)
1944: (No varsity team because of WWII)
1945: 12–4–0 (.750)
1946: 21–5–0 (.808)
1947: 16–8–0 (.667)
1948: 10–14–1 (.420)
1949: 19–8–1 (.696)
1950: 19–9–0 (.679)
1951: 17–9–0 (.654)
1952: 18–14–0 (.563)
1953: 11–17–0 (.393)
1954: 25–10–1 (.708)
1955: 21–11–0 (.656)
1956: 16–13–0 (.552)
1957: 18–13–1 (.578)
1958: 22–12–0 (.647)
1959: 21–14–0 (.600)
1960: 17–13–0 (.567)
1961: 21–11–1 (.652)
1962: 17–13–0 (.567)
1963: 18–14–1 (.561)


  1. ^ a b c d e Gary Evans (1965-11-11). "Let's Talk Sports with Gary Evans". Winona Daily News. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "KOBS, EX-M. S. U. COACH, IS DEAD: Developed Baseball Teams 39 Years". Chicago Tribune. 1968-01-27. 
  3. ^ a b "KOBS OF HAMLINE NAMED COACH OF MICHIGAN AGGIES". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1924-05-11. 
  4. ^ Spartan Sports Encyclopedia, p. 422.
  5. ^ "JOHN KOBS OF SPARTANS WILL QUIT COACHING". Chicago Tribune. 1963-06-09. 
  6. ^ "John Kobs to Retire from Spartan Athletic Staff". Chicago Tribune. 1966-12-16. 
  7. ^ "John Kobs, Baseball Coach At Michigan State, Is Dead". The New York Times. 1968-01-27. 
  8. ^ "Kipke, Goodfellow, Kobs In Michigan Hall of Fame". The Owosso Argus-Press. 1968-05-17. 
  9. ^ "Inductees". Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  10. ^ Jack Seibold (2003). Spartan Sports Encyclopedia: A History of the Michigan State Men's Athletic Program. Sports Publishing, LLC. p. 474. ISBN 1-58261-219-6. 
  11. ^ "Inductees". MSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  12. ^ "John Kobs Will Retire From MSU". The News-Palladium (AP story). 1966-12-16. 

External links[edit]

  • John Kobs at College Basketball at