More than a Coach

Kathy Dean Experience, Spring 2020

For Coach Mike Jacobs, the baseball field was never just a baseball field.

“It was a mission field. He didn’t run a baseball program. He ran a discipleship program,” former player Jared Baria ’09 said at a memorial service held Dec. 7 at Jacobs Field. “Coach Jacobs always thought of the person first and the player second. He was preparing you for life.”

The University of Mobile’s beloved athletic director and head baseball coach passed away suddenly Dec. 3 after suffering a heart attack at the baseball field on campus that bears his name.

As word spread, the reaction from the University of Mobile family and the community reflected the legacy of integrity and faith that Coach Jacobs left.

“I have never met a man with more class and dignity on and off a ball field,” said UM President Lonnie Burnett, who first met Jacobs in 1980 when they were both coaching high school baseball. “Not only was he a legendary coach, but he was a spiritual mentor to hundreds of players over the decades of his career.

Coach Jacobs was inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018.

He was named University of Mobile athletic director July 1, leading one of the largest athletic programs in the NAIA. He founded the university’s baseball program in 1990 and coached all 30 seasons since the Rams’ program was established.

In 2011, the baseball field was named Mike Jacobs Field in his honor, after he compiled 700 wins. Overall, he earned 993 wins and was 10th among active coaches in career wins in the NAIA. He led the Rams to three streaks of 40 or more total wins, and reached the 30-win plateau 17 times. He guided the Rams to seven conference championships and a berth in the 2001 NAIA World Series.

He won Conference Coach of the Year three times in his career; in 1998, 2001 and 2008. He coached 20 total All-Americans, 88 First-Team All-Conference performers, 10 NAIA Scholar-Athletes, 13 conference Gold Glove winners, and 102 conference

All-Academic performers. He saw 35 players go on to sign professional contracts.

Prior to his time at Mobile, he spent six years – two as an assistant and four as the head coach – at UMS-Wright Preparatory School in Mobile with a 65 – 34 record. He led them to a second place finish in 1987 and in 1988 a state championship and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2013. He also coached at Evangel Christian and Central Baptist.

As a college player, he had an outstanding career as a four-year letterman at University of South Alabama and was the Jaguars’ leading hitter in 1976.

He is survived by his wife, Joy; their two sons, Josh and Jeff; and eight grandchildren.

The family asks that memorials be made to the University of Mobile Baseball Program, 5735 College Parkway, Mobile, Alabama 36613 or umobile.edu/givenow and designate baseball.

About the Author

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning media relations director and former journalist whose expertise has enabled the University of Mobile to gain national and regional attention. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Auburn University and worked as a journalist for 12 years, including 10 years at the Mobile Press-Register, earning regional and national awards for coverage of education, deadline reporting and feature writing. She joined the University of Mobile staff in 1993, earning awards for writing and public relations including the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing in 2015 and 2012. She is a charter member of Providence United Methodist Church, serves on the board of the John Will Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from the University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.