HUNTINGTON — The winning pitcher from possibly the greatest victory in the history of Marshall University baseball has died. Greg Rowsey, 63, died Wednesday night.
Rowsey pitched the Thundering Herd to a 9-3 triumph over Clemson in the NCAA South Atlantic Regional in Coral Gables, Florida, on May 20, 1978, pushing Marshall to within one game of the College World Series. The Herd had defeated Florida State 4-0 in a first-round game before beating Clemson, then losing to Miami.
Rowsey was outstanding all four seasons with Marshall, going 2-0 with a 1.38 earned run average as a freshman in 1975, then leading the Herd to a then-school-record 27 wins, a Southern Conference championship and a No. 14 national ranking in 1978.
Rowsey followed his playing career by serving as an assistant coach to Jack Cook for seven seasons. Rowsey helped develop future Major League hurlers Rick Reed and Jeff Montgomery.
An inductee into the Marshall Hall of Fame in 1999, Rowsey coached youth and high school baseball in the Tri-State for many years.
Rowsey enjoyed a strong friendship with his coach and often was seen helping Cook, 94, during Marshall events. Cook’s daughter, Kimberly, said Rowsey was a treasured family friend.
“Through the years, people develop a special bond with each other that can never be broken,” Kimberly Cook said. “When you saw (Jack), you could be sure Greg was nearby. The two loved the game of baseball and loved each other. Greg was a like a brother whom I truly loved and he loved our family.”
Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick said he was saddened to hear of Rowsey’s death.
“He had such deep passion for Marshall, baseball and the city of Huntington,” Hamrick said. “His impact will be a lasting one. Current Herd baseball coach Jeff Waggoner said he will miss Rowsey.
“I’m deeply saddened by the news of one of our greatest players, Greg Rowsey, passing,” Waggoner said. “Prayers and condolences for the Rowsey family and friend. I am very grateful for his friendship and support of Marshall baseball.”
Former Marshall baseball player Larry Verbage said he was honored to have known Rowsey.
“It’s a sad day for Marshall baseball,” Verbage said. “He was a great guy and friend to all.”
Former Marshall basketball player and fellow MU Hall of Fame member Tex Williams said he admired Rowsey.
“Very few athletes ever lived who possesses the humility of this great person,” Williams said of Rowsey. “His loyalty, especially toward coach Cook and the Marshall athletic programs stood out for years. We sure will miss Greg.”
Greg Spencer of Huntington said he was at Rowsey’s house last week and made plans to go to dinner.
“As is everyone, I am heartbroken,” Spencer said. “This world was a better place with Greg Rowsey in it.”
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time.