Spanky McFarland (baseball)

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Spanky McFarland
Biographical details
Born (1954-05-24) May 24, 1954 (age 65)
New Carlisle, Ohio
Alma materHillsdale '76 (B.A.)
Appalachian State '81 (M.A.)
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1977Hillsdale (asst.)
1979–1980Kellogg CC
1981Appalachian State (asst.)
1982Florida State (asst.)
1983–1985Georgia Tech (asst.)
1986–1990South Florida (asst.)
1991–1997Northern Illinois
1998–2015James Madison
Head coaching record
TournamentsNCAA: 4-6
CAA: 22-20
Horizon: 7-5
Accomplishments and honors
CAA: 2006, 2010, 2011
CAA American: 2002
CAA Tournament: 2008, 2011
Horizon Tournament: 1996
2x CAA Coach of the Year (2002, 2010)
4x Louisville Slugger Conference Coach of the Year (2002, 2006, 2010, 2011)
ABCA East Region Coach of the Year (2011)
Virginia SID Coach of the Year (2008)
Middle Atlantic Baseball Scouts Association Coach of the Year (2008)
Springfield-Clark County Baseball Hall of Fame

Joe "Spanky" McFarland (born May 24, 1954) is an American former college baseball coach who was the head coach of Northern Illinois (1991–1997) and James Madison (1998–2015). Under him, JMU appeared in three NCAA Tournaments. A 1976 graduate of Hillsdale College, McFarland served as an assistant coach at several schools in the late 1970s and 1980s.[1]

Playing career[edit]

A native of New Carlisle, Ohio, McFarland attended Tecumseh High School, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He then played football and baseball at Michigan's Hillsdale College. After graduating in spring 1976, he spent training camp with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders before starting his coaching career the following year.[1][2][3]

Coaching career[edit]

Junior college and assistant coaching[edit]

McFarland's first coaching position was an assistant job at Hillsdale in 1977. He next served as the head coach at Kellogg Community College, also in Michigan, from 1979 to 1980. His overall record at Kellogg was 33-13. McFarland then spent a decade as an assistant in the southeast, coaching at Appalachian State (1981), Florida State (1982), Georgia Tech (1983–1985), and South Florida (1986–1990).[1][4]

Northern Illinois[edit]

McFarland's first Division I head coaching job came at Northern Illinois (NIU) from 1991 to 1997. There, McFarland revived a program that had been cut in the early 1980s. He had a 146-211 record in seven seasons.[1][4]

After playing 1991 as an independent, NIU played in the Mid-Continent Conference from 1992 to 1994. The team finished in the bottom three of the conference in all three seasons, with its highest win total coming in 1994 (23-30). From 1995 to 1997, it played in the Horizon League and qualified for the conference tournament in each season. In 1995, it had its first above-.500 season under McFarland (29-27), finished second in the West Division, and placed third in the Horizon Tournament. The Huskies' Jesse Richardson was named the Horizon Player of the Year. In 1996, it won the Horizon Tournament but lost to Northeastern Illinois in the NCAA Tournament play-in game.[1][5][6]

At NIU, four of McFarland's players were selected in the MLB Draft, including 7th-round selection Chris Burt in 1994. Another of his players, Brian Schmack, went undrafted but later pitched in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers.[7][8]

James Madison[edit]

After the 1997 season, McFarland left Northern Illinois to become the head coach at James Madison. He replaced Kevin Anderson, who had resigned following allegations that he overstated spending on team meals.[9]

The Dukes' first winning season under McFarland came in 2000, his third season, when they went 37-22. After another 30-win season in 2001, the Dukes qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2002. After a 41-12 regular season in which they won the CAA's American Division and McFarland was named CAA Coach of the Year, they went 2-2 in the CAA Tournament. After receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as the third seed in the Columbia Regional, they went 1-2, getting a win against VCU in an elimination game.[10][11]

After missing the CAA Tournament in 2004 and 2005, the Dukes went 38-21 in 2006 and won the CAA regular season title. They finished third in the CAA Tournament, however, and did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.[10][12]

McFarland's best four-year stretch at James Madison came from 2008 to 2011. In this stretch, the Dukes had three 30-win seasons and a 40-win season. They won two CAA regular season titles (2010 and 2011) and appeared in two NCAA Tournaments (2008 and 2011). In 2008, at the Raleigh Regional, the Dukes again went 1-2 with a win in the 0-1 game. In 2010, the team won the regular season title but lost in the tournament; McFarland was named the CAA's Co-Coach of the Year. In 2011, they reached the Chapel Hill Regional final in their deepest postseason run under McFarland.[10][13][14]

James Madison had losing records in 2012, 2013, and 2014, finishing no higher than 6th in the CAA.[10]

At James Madison, McFarland has had many major award winners and draftees. CAA award winners include Players of the Year Eddie Kim (2002 and 2003), Kellen Kulbacki (2006), and Jake Lowery (2011). Kulbacki was named a First-Team All-American in both 2006 and 2007. Between 1998 and 2014, 28 of his players have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Rich Thompson, Dan Meyer, and Ryan Reid went on to appear in Major League Baseball.[10][15]

In the fall of 2014, McFarland announced that he would retire after the 2015 season. That year, the Dukes finished 18-33 and missed the CAA Tournament.[16]

Head coaching record[edit]

Below is a table of McFarland's records as a collegiate head baseball coach.[5][6][10][13][17]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Kellogg CCNJCAA (1979–1980)
1979 Kellogg CC
1980 Kellogg CC
Kellogg CC: 33-13
Northern Illinois (Independent) (1991)
1991 Northern Illinois 11-25
Northern Illinois (Mid-Continent Conference) (1992–1994)
1992 Northern Illinois 18-36 6-16 5th (Gray)
1993 Northern Illinois 16-34-1 6-13 7th
1994 Northern Illinois 23-30 10-14 7th
Northern Illinois (Horizon League) (1995–1997)
1995 Northern Illinois 29-27 9-7 2nd (West) Horizon Tournament
1996 Northern Illinois 27-30 12-10 T-3rd NCAA Play-in Game
1997 Northern Illinois 22-29 12-12 T-4th Horizon Tournament
Northern Illinois: 146-211 55-72
James Madison (Colonial Athletic Association) (1998–present)
1998 James Madison 27-29 11-8 3rd CAA Tournament[a]
1999 James Madison 22-35-1 6-15 8th CAA Tournament[a]
2000 James Madison 37-22 12-9 4th CAA Tournament[a]
2001 James Madison 36-23 10-11 5th CAA Tournament[b]
2002 James Madison 44-16 9-3 1st (American) NCAA Regional
2003 James Madison 29-27 13-7 2nd (American) CAA Tournament
2004 James Madison 28-26 8-16 7th
2005 James Madison 20-35 8-16 8th
2006 James Madison 38-21 22-8 1st CAA Tournament
2007 James Madison 22-31 11-17 9th
2008 James Madison 39-19 20-9 2nd NCAA Regional
2009 James Madison 30-24 12-11 7th
2010 James Madison 30-23 18-6 1st CAA Tournament
2011 James Madison 42-19 21-9 1st NCAA Regional
2012 James Madison 16-35-2 10-20 10th
2013 James Madison 25-30 11-15 8th CAA Tournament
2014 James Madison 17-36 8-12 6th CAA Tournament
2015 James Madison 18-33 6-18 T-8th
James Madison: 521-473-4 216-210
Total: 700-697-4

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


McFarland's son, Ty, played for him at James Madison from 2011 to 2014. He was a 10th-round selection of the New York Yankees in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.[18]

In 1990, McFarland wrote a book titled Coaching Pitchers. It was re-published in 2003.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c In this season, all of the CAA's members qualified for the postseason baseball tournament.
  2. ^ In this season, all eligible members of the CAA qualified for the postseason baseball tournament.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Spanky McFarland". James Madison Athletics Communications. Archived from the original on August 9, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  2. ^ "McFarland, 1970 Arrows Inducted into Hall of Fame". January 12, 2011. Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Jablonski, David (June 2, 2011). "Tecumseh Grad McFarland Back in NCAA Tourney with James Madison: Pair of Local Grads Also in D-I Tourney with Kent State". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Hutchins, Jennifer (August 28, 1990). "Spanky Builds; Hopes They Will Come". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "2014 Horizon League Baseball Record Book" (PDF). Horizon League. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "2014 Summit League Baseball Record Book" (PDF). The Summit League. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  7. ^ "MLB Amateur Draft Picks Who Came from "Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL)"". Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  8. ^ "Former Huskie Schmack Named Valpo Head". August 5, 2013. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  9. ^ "James Madison Baseball Coach Resigns Under Investigation". Associated Press. September 16, 1997. Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "2014 CAA Baseball Record Book" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  11. ^ Free, Bill (March 27, 2002). "Deuchler Gives James Madison a Boost". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  12. ^ Freer, Michael (July 25, 2014). "Triple Crown Candidate Focuses on Postseason". Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  13. ^ a b "2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Record Book" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2014. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  14. ^ Stanton, Phil (January 13, 2012). "Opening Day Just Five Weeks Away". Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  15. ^ "MLB Amateur Draft Picks Who Came from "James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA)"". Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  16. ^ "JMU's McFarland to Retire". September 26, 2014. Archived from the original on June 5, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  17. ^ "Annual Conference Standings -- 1991". Archived from the original on April 20, 2004. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  18. ^ Waggoner, Jim. "Ty McFarland Has Been a Big Hit with the Staten Island Yankees". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  19. ^ McFarland, Joe (2003). Coaching Pitchers. Human Kinetics. ISBN 0736045090. Retrieved July 25, 2014.