For the past 34 years, there have been several constants at George Mason University: the enrollment has increased yearly, there has been some sort of construction on campus, and Bill Brown has been involved with the Patriot baseball program.
After spending two years as a player and two years as an assistant coach, Brown enters his 30th season as the head coach at his alma mater. In that span, Brown has gone from being the then-youngest Division I head coach in the nation to the dean of coaches in the Colonial Athletic Association. He has maintained the success he inherited with the program and lifted it to new heights as the Patriots are an annual contender for the CAA championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Brown has been honored as CAA Coach of the Year a record six times and has guided George Mason to some of its greatest accomplishments. Since 1985, the Patriots have won two CAA titles and finished second three other times, and they have made six appearances in the NCAA Tournament. George Mason also has posted at least 30 victories in a season 13 times in the last 24 years, including a school-record 42 wins and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2009. Mason was nationally-ranked for the first time in school history that year, rising into the top 30 in both the National College Baseball Writer's Association and Collegiate Baseball polls.
In 2010, the Patriots were ravaged by injuries yet still finished with a 28-22 record and just narrowly missed the four-team CAA Tournament. Three players slated for regular spots in the lineup or rotation missed the entire season while several other players missed significant time. Nonetheless, for the second-straight season, a Mason player was named a finalist for a national award. In 2009, Chris Henderson was a finalist for the Bench Award as the nation's top catcher while in 2010, Ryan Soares was a finalist for the Wallace Award as the nation's top shortstop.
In 2008, Brown took a team that was young and lost several starters to injury and led it to a 30-25 mark and a third-place finish in the CAA. The Patriots took a pair of wins over nationally-ranked schools and Brown was named CAA Co-Coach of the Year. In 2005, Mason finished the year with a 35-19 record and in 2004, Brown picked up the Coach of the Year award when he led Mason to a 39-19 record and an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
George Mason's all-time leader in coaching victories with a 28-year record of 823-720-5, Brown surpassed the program's founder, Raymond H. "Hap" Spuhler, in 1993. Spuhler was 318-169-3 in 12 seasons before George Mason entered the Division I ranks. Brown gained his 750th career victory in a 7-2 win over William & Mary on May 15, 2008. He earned No. 500 on his 42nd birthday as the Patriots defeated Virginia Commonwealth, 8-0, in the CAA Tournament in Kinston, N.C., in 1999.
In 1992, Brown earned CAA Coach of the Year honors as he guided George Mason to its third conference championship and a school Division I-record for victories with a 39-18 mark. He then saw his squad win for the first time ever in NCAA Tournament action when the Patriots routed Rider in Gainesville, FL. The next season, Brown shared Coach of the Year laurels as he led George Mason to its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and an overall 33-15 record. The Patriots won the CAA regular season championship for the second year in a row and advanced to the CAA Tournament finals.
George Mason won its first conference championship by claiming the ECAC South title in 1985, finishing the year with a 38-23 record. Brown earned his first Coach of the Year honor after leading the Patriots to a 31-23 record in 1987, then he guided them to the CAA crown in 1988 as they finished with a 34-27-1 mark. The Patriots advanced to NCAA Tournament regional play in 1985, 1988, 1992, 1993 and 2004.
Brown took the helm of the Patriot program at age 24 in the fall of 1981 and has seen the team move from a field on George Mason's North campus to area high school fields before finally finding a permanent on-campus home with beautiful Spuhler Field in 1985. Spuhler Field, named for the founder of the baseball program and a pioneer within the athletic program at George Mason, has a seating capacity of 900 and is considered one of the better collegiate facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region. It was seleced as the College Baseball Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) in 2002.
A native of nearby Vienna, Brown grew up playing baseball and helped lead George C. Marshall High School to the Virginia state finals as a senior in 1975. He came to George Mason as a player in 1978 after spending seasons at the University of Georgia and Allegany Community College. While catching for the Patriots, Brown was selected as the NAIA All-District catcher as the Patriots were 36-17-1 during his junior year.
Brown worked in the George Mason athletic department for the next two years, earning his B.S. degree in government and political science in 1980. He was named the third head coach in George Mason baseball history when Walt Masterson, who was the head coach for two years, retired in 1981.
Since Brown has been the head coach, 27 Patriots have been drafted by major league baseball clubs and several others have been signed as free agents. Four of the drafted players -- Mike Draper, Chris Widger, Mike Colangelo and Shawn Camp -- have reached the major leagues. Draper, drafted by the New York Yankees in 1988, became the first former Patriot to reach the majors when he played with the New York Mets in 1993, while Widger has played with the Seattle Mariners (1995-96, 2000), the Montreal Expos (1997-2000), the Yankees (2002), the St. Louis Cardinals (2003) and Chicago White Sox (2005). Colangelo was called up by the Anaheim Angels in June 1999 and appeared in one game before being lost to an injury for the rest of the season, but he saw action with the San Diego Padres in 2001 and with the Oakland Athletics in 2002. Camp spent the 2004 season with the Kansas City Royals and he has pitched every year in the majors since.
In 2005, Widger became the first Patriot to compete in a World Series. He added to that honor by bringing home a World Series ring as he had an RBI in the series for the world champion Chicago White Sox.
Two other former players of Brown's to make a mark in major league baseball is Dayton Moore. The former infielder was named the general manager of the Kansas City Royals in May of 2006 and he brought along former Mason player J.J. Picollo as Director of Player Development.
Keeping the tradition of the sport and the University, Brown and his staff work closely with the community and local baseball organizations. With both winter and summer player camps, as well as winter coaching clinics, Brown and his staff actively take part in the development and promotion of baseball throughout the Northern Virginia community.
Brown is married to the former Alice Goodman. The couple resides in Fairfax with their 12-year-old daughter Jessica.
BILL BROWN'S MILESTONE WINS