Counting all of the wins in John Crumbley’s coaching career would take some time.
While it wouldn’t take the four decades he’s been a high school baseball coach — one would have to count up to 800.
The longtime coach, who is the father of Steinbrenner High’s baseball program, has accumulated many accolades.
And, he just added another.
His team defeated Land O’ Lakes 10-5 in an April 12 game, making Crumbley the first Hillsborough County coach to reach 800 wins.
“That’s pretty remarkable for a little kid from Tampa,” Crumbley said. “I think about how blessed I’ve been. It’s not just me — it’s having a passion for the game, and it can be humbling, but there also haven’t been too many bad days (coaching) either.
“I’ve been blessed — I truly have been.”
Being this blessed may be an understatement.
His list of honors, achievements and milestones makes the 62-year-old’s resume sound like a compilation several coaches.
He is a four-time state champion coach.
He has been inducted into three separate hall of fames in the state.
He is the winningest Hillsborough County baseball coach by a mile (801-267).
He’s won the highly-respected Saladino Tournament played by Hillsborough teams every Spring Break.
He’s even had a team named national champions, as well brought home two state runner up titles.
“I never did anything with numbers,” Crumbley said. “I never thought about those things — the wins or getting into a hall of fame. I just wanted to work hard, have a nice facility for the players.”
Crumbley, a Miami native who grew up in Tampa and is a 1978 Leto grad, became the Jesuit High baseball coach in 1985 after a short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Tampa, where he also played shortstop.
He coached Jesuit’s Tigers for 22 years and brought home state titles in 1994, 1997 and 2000. His 1997 team also earned a national title from Baseball America.
Crumbley retired from coaching in 2006, to watch his son, J.J., play for Florida Gulf Coast. But he remained Jesuit’s athletic director until returning to the dugout to launch Steinbrenner’s program in 2010.
“I would clip out all the articles and lay them on the dining room table,” Crumbley recalled. “That way my wife (Lisa) would see them, as a way for me to get consent to take the job (at Steinbrenner, which was about to open). Finally she said, ‘Go for it!’ but I also think she didn’t think I’d stay this long.”
In 2016, the Warriors won a state championship with Crumbley at the helm.
Two years later, the Florida High School Athletic Association inducted Crumbley into its Hall of Fame. He had already been inducted into Jesuit’s Hall of Fame in 1997 and Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
Crumbley has come a long way since his first teaching job at Pine View Middle in Land O’ Lakes, where he would carpool with another legendary coach, Calvin Baisley.
It was Baisley, Land O’ Lakes High’s winningest coach, who embraced Crumbley when the Warriors defeated the Gators on their home field for win No. 800.
“I never imagined we’d be coaching this long or successfully,” said Baisley, who is Pasco County’s winningest baseball coach (633). “You don’t do it this long unless you love doing it, (but) I think it’s awesome (to get 800 wins) and it shows his commitment to the game.”
“I always thought of coaching as a fraternity,” Crumbly said. “Bais(ley), (former Ridgewood coach Larry) Beets, (longtime and late Gaither coach) Frank (Permuy), (former Jefferson coach) Pop (Cuesta), (longtime King coach Jim) Mac(aluso). I always looked up to those guys, so to be with them is incredible.”
Even more so than being in a fraternity of coaches, Crumbley has enjoyed the hundreds of players he’s coached, some of which have become successful coaches themselves.
That list includes Berkeley Prep’s coach Richie Warren, who played on Jesuit’s 2000 state championship team and already has 362 wins as a coach already. Warren also was Crumbley’s hand-picked replacement at Jesuit in 2007.
“I can’t say enough about what he’s done for me — I get goosebumps talking about him and what he means to me and my family,” Warren said. “I think, early on, that I wanted to be (No.) 9 (Crumbley’s number at Jesuit). I wanted to be just like him. But through conversations with him, he got me to look at the bigger picture, not just wins.
“He’s always been great at getting the most out of players and it shows with all these wins.”
Crumbley isn’t sure if 900 wins is in the lineup card, but says he plans to coach until he is 65 years old.
In the meantime, he’ll reflect on his career, mainly focusing on the people that have made it one heck of a ride so far.
“I think back to 1981, that year with Bais(ley) and I think, where did it go?! This is year 41!” Crumbley said.
“God has put a special blessing on me, my career and my family. The results, the titles, the lifelong friendships with players and coaches — it’s been really something.
“It’s been neat, and I’ve been blessed for every year and every win.”
John Crumbley Coaching Milestones
No. 500 – Jesuit 13, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 3, March 16, 2004
No. 600 – Steinbrenner 11, Cambridge Christian 0, March 18, 2011
No. 700 – Steinbrenner 6, Alonso 4, March 18, 2016
No. 800 – Steinbrenner 10, Land O’ Lakes 5, April 12, 2023
1994 Class 4A State Title – Jesuit 10 Clearwater 2
1997 Class 4A State Title – Jesuit 7, Pasco 1
2000 Class 4A State Title – Jesuit 4, Jacksonville Bishop Kenny 1
2016 Class 8A State Title – Steinbrenner 9, Oviedo Hagerty 4
Published on April 19, 2023.