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Johns Hopkins baseball coach Bob Babb to retire after 2025 season, his 46th: ‘All good things must come to an end’

The 2025 season will be Bob Babb’s 46th coaching Johns Hopkins baseball. It will also be his last.

The venerable coach informed his players and incoming recruits Monday night of his intention to retire after next spring’s campaign has concluded. Babb, who will turn 70 on Feb. 12, said he has been thinking about stepping down for the past “two or three years” and paving the way for the Blue Jays to hire a new person at the helm.

“It was not necessarily an immediate decision, but I’ve been thinking, ‘OK, when is the right time?’” he said Monday before the public announcement. “It’s always hard to stop doing something that you love, but by the same token, all good things must come to an end.”

Babb, a 1977 graduate of Johns Hopkins who played outfield, shortstop, and first and third base and served there as an assistant football coach for 21 years, will wrap up an envious career. Courtesy of an overall record of 1,302-478-16 (.729 winning percentage), he ranks as the winningest active coach at the NCAA Division III level and fifth all-time.

While the timing of Babb’s announcement might be surprising, athletic director Jennifer S. Baker said the strength of his legacy is not.

“He’s built an incredible program that is consistently successful on a conference and national level year in and year out,” she said Monday, adding that Babb told her of his intentions a week ago. “Is there ever a good time to leave that? I don’t know. Like he said, it was an inevitability, and this was the time that felt right to him, and he has our full support. I’ve told him. ‘I want to make sure this is your best year yet. I want to send you out on the highest possible note we can. So let’s win it all.’”

Under Babb’s leadership, the Blue Jays finished runner-up in the College World Series in 2008 and 2023, participated in the final-eight, double-elimination playoff in 1989, 2010, 2019 and 2021, and qualified for 24 NCAA Division III tournaments. He guided the program to 18 Centennial Conference titles, amassed at least 20 victories in all but two seasons, and ensured that none of his teams finished a campaign with a losing record.

As gratifying as those triumphs have been, Babb declined to describe the decision to retire after next season as “difficult.”

“This will give me time to do things that I haven’t been able to do,” he said. “So I will be sad that I’m not doing it anymore, but I’m realistic enough to know that this day had to come at some point. I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s time to do something else.”

In addition to his age, Babb said family was another motivating factor. His 94-year-old father John lives in Pennsylvania, and his oldest daughter Gillian recently gave birth to Christopher, the first grandson to Babb and his wife Gilly.

Babb joked that some players seeking more playing time might be “overjoyed” by his decision. Turning serious, he said he wanted to make sure that none of his recruits would be blindsided by a mid- or post-season announcement.

“I’ve already come to grips that this is the right thing to do,” he said. “I think the emotional time will be near the end of next season when I know this could be my last home game or this is the last bus trip we’re going to make. I think that will be tough.”

Although a national search for Babb’s replacement is not scheduled to begin until after next season, Baker said she will take note of possible candidates. She said Babb set a high standard.

“Bob is one of the winningest coaches in all of Division III, and those are big shoes to fill,” she said. “I don’t think we’re looking for somebody who is a cookie-cutter replacement, but it’s got to be somebody who is excited about that and frankly has the self-confidence and vision to step in and lean into and continue to grow and elevate the program.”

Babb said he hopes to provide input on a successor if the search committee asks, and he said he would recommend current assistant coach Adam Schlenoff for the position. With his final day slated for June 30, 2025, Babb said his immediate retirement plans include traveling to visit his former players and their families, spending time at his and his wife’s second home in New Hampshire, and being a typical fan at Johns Hopkins athletic events.

Baker quipped that she and her colleagues will miss what she called Babb’s “greatest collection of holiday sweaters” and his wife Gilly’s talent for baking the tastiest chocolate cakes. She said Babb’s departure will sap the athletic department of an “elder statesman.”

“His door is always open, and coaches naturally gravitate toward him because he has the benefit of time and tenure,” she said. “He has seen a lot of different things where if you are a new and young coach just starting out, he can provide some great mentorship and guidance.”

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After opening play in February as the top-ranked team in the country, the Blue Jays went 35-11, captured another Centennial Conference title, and were swept by No. 1 Endicott in a Super Regional on Memorial Day weekend. But next year’s team is projected to lose only two full-time starters in designated hitter Matthew Cooper and center fielder Isaiah Winikur, a Towson transfer, and return seven starters including all four infielders and the entire pitching staff with the addition of three freshmen and potentially one or two graduate student transfers.

Babb acknowledged that he is hopeful that next season’s squad can deliver an NCAA crown that has eluded him for so long.

“If ever there is an opportunity for us to make a serious run at the World Series again, it’s probably this coming year,” he said. “That’s my goal. I can’t imagine anything better than to win a national championship in my last game. That would be a storybook ending.”