The Newport Gulls announced today that, after two seasons away from the City-by-the-Sea, Mike Coombs, the most successful coach in New England Collegiate Baseball League history, will return as manager of the 2018 team. Coombs, who led the Gulls to four NECBL titles during his 11-year tenure as skipper, will once again step through the gates of historic Cardines Field next summer.

“I miss the town, I miss the players, I miss the people – I miss Newport,” Coombs said. “I wanted to come back and coach again.”

“The Aquidneck Island community, our organization, and the entire Gulls family are so excited that Mike Coombs is returning to manage the Gulls in 2018,” said team President and General Manager Chuck Paiva. “Coach Coombs has a special, unique style that just works so well in summer college baseball. He connects with players, he is loved by the fans, and he understands the game on such a high level. We are so excited to have Coach Coombs return to Newport.”

“The owners got in touch with me,” Coombs said, “and I still think I’ve got some baseball left in me. So for them to call me and want me to be part of the Newport Gulls family and coach those boys again, I couldn’t say no.”

“This position is important, because you’re respected, and they expect a lot from you,” Coombs added. “When you lose, people come up to you – reporters, fans, ownership – and they ask, ‘What are you going to do to turn things around?’ You’ve got to convey that to the players – what it really means to be part of the Newport Gulls.”

“We want to make sure that each player that comes in represents the Newport Gulls to the best of their ability,” he said. “To me, that’s Number 1. Making sure they know what the Newport Gulls are all about.

“Family. Tradition. Good people that love their baseball. This town loves their baseball. We need to make sure that the players coming in know that’s what it’s all about – that’ll be part of my job,” Coombs said. “Playing here is being part of an organization that’s going to get you prepared for the next level. What you’ve got to do is make sure that you are ready to do what it takes to be with a winning franchise.”

Coombs, a Florida native, began his career as Newport’s pitching coach in 2005. After three games, he was promoted to manager, and led the team to the franchise’s third NECBL title – a sign of many good things to come.

In 11 seasons from 2005-2015, Coombs earned a total of 308 regular season wins and 153 losses – a .668 winning percentage. In addition to the 2005 title, the Gulls would go on to win it all again in 2009, 2012, and 2014, reaching the league finals on three other occasions, including 2007, 2008, and 2013. Coombs owns a 44-17 all-time postseason record (a .721 winning percentage), giving him an NECBL-best 352-170 overall win-loss record as manager – a .674 winning percentage through 522 games.

Despite his unprecedented success with the organization, Coombs remains humble.

“The Gulls were a winning franchise before I ever got there,” Coombs said. “They were already developing players and winning championships, and I just stepped in there and tried to carry on that tradition. I tell the players, ‘You want to get to the playoffs, you want to get to the championship, and you want to win the Fay Vincent Cup.’”

The New England Collegiate Baseball League named Coombs its Manager of the Year twice, including in 2006, when the Gulls set a league record with 32 regular-season wins to just 10 losses – a record that still stands today. Coombs received the honor again after the team won its fourth title – along with 31 regular season wins – in 2009. In addition to winning the Fay Vincent Sr. Cup in 2012, the Gulls were ranked as the overall No. 1 summer collegiate baseball team in the United States by industry leader Perfect Game USA. In 2014, despite facing adversity and multiple injuries to key players, Coombs again found a way to bring home a title – his fourth, and the team’s league-record sixth.

Coombs-coached teams reached the playoffs in 11 consecutive seasons, earning seven regular-season titles and seven divisional championships, reaching at least the Division Championship Series round every year. He coached the division’s All-Star team a record seventimes, and managed the NECBL All-Stars in an exhibition game vs. Team USA, as wells as managing the Gulls in multiple exhibitions versus Team USA, Team China, the Cape Cod League’s Wareham Gatemen, and others.

Coombs has an extensive background in baseball, playing as a catcher and outfielder for Seminole Community College, in the Shenandoah Valley Collegiate League, and professionally for the Detroit Tigers organization. He has coached at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, including as a pitching coach with the University of South Florida and the Milwaukee Brewers organization. A former player for Florida Southern College, later, as a coach with the team, Coombs won the national championship in 1981 and 1985.

More than anything, Coombs said his time away from Newport made him miss the people he became friends with and became part of his life every summer for 11 years – from souvenir shop owners, to the staff at the local coffee shops, to the fans, Gulls staff, and the team’s owners. For Coombs, they’re family, and he’s all eager to see them all again.

“I’ve missed the people in Newport,” Coombs said. “I’ve missed it all. I miss being a part of that, working with the front office, working with the grounds crew – I miss all of that. I loved the people who were taking tickets, the interns wiping off seats after a rain delay – every person that was part of the organization, I loved working with them all summer. The best thing about it is the people that are there, day in and day out, every night, supporting the Newport Gulls because they believe in the organization and all the good it does for the community.”

After two years in retirement, Coombs said he is excited to once again call Newport home for the summer, where he has the opportunity to lead a talented roster of the nation’s top student-athletes in the hunt for Newport’s seventh NECBL championship.

The Newport Gulls, members of the 13-team New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded as the Rhode Island Gulls in 1998 in Cranston, R.I., before moving to Newport in 2001. In addition to recruiting, fielding, and developing a team of the nation’s top collegiate baseball athletes and attracting 50,000 fans annually to Cardines Field, the predominantly volunteer organization strives to benefit the youth of Newport County via summer camps, reading programs, fundraisers, scholarships, and charitable donations – totaling over $1 million since 2001. The Gulls are six-time champions of the NECBL – the winningest franchise in league history – and were ranked as the overall No. 1 summer collegiate baseball team in the country by Perfect Game USA in 2012.

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