Former Gator Coach Dave Fuller Passes Away
Dave Fuller, the winningest baseball coach in University of Florida history, passed away Tuesday, Sept. 15, at North Florida Regional Hospital in Gainesville. He was 94.
Coach Fullers loyalty and dedication to the coaching profession, and his love of the University of Florida, will always be remembered, said UF Director of Athletics Jeremy Foley. He had a significant positive influence on countless athletes, coaches and administrators.
Fuller guided the Gator baseball program from 1948-75, producing a record of 557-354-6 and SEC Championships in 1952, 1956 and 1962, and he was selected as SEC Coach of the Year all three years. His clubs also won four Eastern Division titles, and played in four NCAA Regional tournaments.
He was also a member of the Gator football coaching staff for 29 years (1948-76), the longest run of any assistant coach in UF history. Fuller served in many capacities as head freshman coach, varsity assistant, head scout and a key recruiter under three head coaches, Bob Woodruff, Ray Graves and Doug Dickey.
His outstanding recruiting efforts are best remembered in the case of future NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood of Monticello.
Youngblood, slender 180-pound player at Jefferson County High School, had no college offers until Fuller took an interest in his athletic skills and talked Coach Graves into signing him in 1967.
Youngblood turned out to be the greatest defensive end in school history who went on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. At his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001, he said this in his acceptance speech:
There was a baseball coach at the University of Florida many years ago, and he saw something in a young man playing the game that nobody else noticed. Coach Dave Fuller, hes smiling right now I want to thank Coach Ray Graves, who was my football coach at the University of Florida for believing in a wise manCoach Dave Fuller. He saw a potential in a football player and they made me a Gator, not just for four years, but they made me a Gator for life.
Fuller also recruited and signed Doug Dickey out of P.K. Yonge High School in Gainesville, who became a football and baseball standout for the Gators and was head football coach from 1970-79.
Fullers baseball teams produced 47 first-team All-SEC players, and All-Americans Bernie Parrish (1958), Perry McGriff (1959-1960) and Tom Moore (1962-1963). Seven of his players went on to play in the Major Leagues, including Dennis Aust, Doug Corbett, William Graham, Roger Holt, Haywood Sullivan, Dale Willis and Kendall Wise.
Gator head baseball coach Kevin OSullivan said: There was no better ambassador for Florida baseball than Dave Fuller. What he accomplished during his legendary career with the Gators will never be forgotten and Coach Fuller embodied all that is best about Floridaloyalty, dedication and the pursuit of excellence. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who loved him. His life touched players, families, staff and alumni and his impact on our baseball program is immeasurable. Coach Fuller is a true representative of the Gator tradition and he will be missed.
A star athlete at Wake Forest, Fuller started for three seasons in football, basketball and baseball for the Deacons. His greatest fame was in football where he was a fullback-tailback. Following graduation he played professional baseball with Portsmouth, Va. of the Dixie League and Wilson and Goldsboro, N.C. of the Coastal Plain League.
He used to tell his friends that his inability hit the curve ball encouraged him to get into coaching. His coaching background includes: head football, basketball and baseball at Perquimans Co. High School, Hertford, N.C. (1940-41-42), backfield coach, Maryville (Mo.) Teachers College (1943Navy V2 Program), He joined the Gator staff following the end of World War II.
Fuller and his late wife Patricia had four children, daughter Pat, and sons David, Len and John all graduated from the University of Florida. Len played football for the Gators and John was an All-SEC baseball player.