TOM DOOLEY: Melbourne Central Catholic Baseball Coach For Over 30 Years, Has Amassed Over 550 Wins
By SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME // November 22, 2020
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
ABOVE VIDEO: Tom Dooley – 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. (Video aired in 2017)
STRONG WORK ETHIC
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Tom Dooley was hired by Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Mike Riazzi 31 years ago to coach the Melbourne Central Catholic (MCC) baseball team, Ronald Reagan was President and Cal Ripken Jr. was heading to spring training preparing for year five of a consecutive games streak that would go on for 11 more seasons.
Baseball and streaks go hand in hand, and the latest Hustler Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee has several that rival the great ones celebrated throughout the history of Major League Baseball.
Dooley is currently the longest tenured head coach in any high school sport in Brevard county and he’s never missed a day of work at MCC, exceeding Ripken by 14 years and still going.
Raised by a single mom, Dooley’s mother, Francis Belski, was a coal miner’s daughter from a small Pennsylvania mining town where work ethic wasn’t something one developed.
If you weren’t born with it, working hard every day at whatever you did was a way of life and a character trait that was instilled in you at a very early age.
With Dooley at the helm, the Hustlers have amassed over 530 victories. His teams have won an amazing 77 percent of the games Dooley managed during his tenure.
To put that into perspective, only one manager in Major League Baseball history has ever won more than 60 percent of his games, the great Joe McCarthy.
Under Coach Dooley’s guidance the Hustlers had won more than 50 percent of their playoff games, but, as great as the Hustlers had played during Dooley’s first 24 years, they had yet to win a state title.
That all changed in 2013 when an infield led by the Capra brothers and tough as nails pitching performances from A.J. Smith catapulted the Hustlers and Dooley to the 3A state baseball title.
CULTURE OF WINNING
Coach Dooley’s culture of winning at MCC is a simple one. Get rid of excuses and just play the game. When succeeding three out of 10 times is considered exceptional, baseball is a game of overcoming failure.
Dooley says there are no excuses for not hustling, dressing properly, being a good teammate, being early, having controlled emotion and having fun. Lastly, everything is “sweat earned.” In other words, he asks his players to work hard but smart on and off the field at all times.
“I ask that they have a great passion and enthusiasm, not just for baseball but life,” Dooley said.
The record and winning percentage speak to MCC baseball culture’s success, but what speaks about the success of the man Dooley is that so many of his players have returned to assist him in coaching for the team they once played.
ABOVE VIDEO: Highlights of the Melbourne Central Catholic Hustlers Class 3A State Semifinal win in 2013. MCC would go onto to capture to State title.
Currently, three former players are by his side in the dugout helping Dooley coach the Hustlers, including Terry Henderson, who played for Dooley on his first Final Four team in 1994.
He credits so many for his success but points out two coaches in particular that he feels helped shape and mold his style of coaching, Howard May and Dusty Rhodes.
“Coach May is a hall of fame coach that had a huge impact on me,” said Dooley. “He is an even better human being. His influence on people runs so deep.”
Dooley’s manager in life is his beautiful wife Leslie, whom he says keeps him focused and helps him balance the life of a manager, teacher and husband.
Coach Dooley is not a man that is comfortable with accepting individual awards.
But when you get young men to buy into your philosophy for three decades and win nearly eight out of every 10 times you take the field, there is no doubt he deserves to stand alone and have his picture hang in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2021 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Induction or to make a nomination, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and has so far inducted more than 100 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, local youth sports advocate and promoter Mike Cadore, Friday Night Locker Room Founders Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison, Cocoa Beach City Manager Jim McKnight and AAU Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of inductees for 2017 induction included athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017
• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Joe Kohlbrand, Football; and Cory Philpot, Football
• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jason Arnold, Baseball; Michael Coffey, Bowling; Reggie Hannah, Basketball; Paige Kearns, Swimming; and Charles Wilson, Football.
• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Kristen Gordon, Softball; Ray Herring, Jr. Football; Katie Jackson, Soccer; and Hunter Pingston, Football.
• AMATEUR/REC CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Richard Chapman, Little League; Todd Erickson, Softball; Al Genchi, Youth Soccer; and David Kilgore, Running.
• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Skip Arrich, Soccer; Tom Dooley, Baseball; Chuck Keener, Tennis; Steve Lamontagne, Golf; and Mike Soliven, Basketball.
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEES: Jeff Carr, Eastern Florida State College; and Steve Englehart, Florida Tech.
• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEES: Linda Anderson, Athletic Director; and Les Stafford, Volunteer
• SPORTS OFFICIALS INDUCTEES: Neely Dunn and Bob Walton.
• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Hillard Grossman.
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE : Gary Gregory, PAL Boxing.
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics – Coach Cindy Dropeski, Athlete Chuck Conway and Volunteer Kathi Madden.
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: Cocoa High School 2016 Football State Champions.
• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Jim Grimes, Basketball, Eastern Florida State College
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME