Jayson King was a relative unknown when he came to Rindge prior to the 1999 season. All he had on his coaching resume at the time was two years as a head coach at the Division III level with UMass Boston, plus time as a graduate assistant at Springfield College.
At the time though, the Franklin Pierce University baseball program wasn’t exactly in the position to be hiring an established head coach. The team didn’t even have its own dedicated coach. David Chadbourne had spent two seasons as the bench boss, pulling double duty as he was also the head women’s basketball coach at the time. Prior, Tod Silegy had manned the dugout while also steering the Ravens’ much more successful men’s soccer program. Since moving to the Division II level in 1989, Ravens baseball had mustered just one season with double-digit wins, and even that was only an 11-22-1 campaign under Chadbourne in 1996.
“The program was not in the best of shape mainly because it was the secondary sport for the coaches that coached before me,” said King, looking back to his arrival at Franklin Pierce. “The talent, facilities, culture pretty much everything needed an overhaul. The two things that were in place was extraordinary leadership, in Bruce Kirsh and George Hagerty, and the "Bubble" [the Northfields Activity Center, the campus’ indoor recreation facility]. “
As far as King was concerned though, things in Rindge were primed for a turnaround. When asked about when he realized he could put something special together at Franklin Pierce, he said the feeling came immediately. “I was probably a bit naïve, but in my mind it was as soon as I stepped foot on campus,” said King. “I had my mind made up that we were going to get very competitive quickly. Once I started to convince some talented recruits of the same thing is probably when it sunk in that yes we are going to do this for sure. That is when it clicked in.”
It clicked in a hurry. In just his second season, King posted the program’s first 20-win season, as well as its first above-.500 finish at the Division II level, as the Ravens went 21-19-1 in 2000. The team has won 20 games in every season since, excepting the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
In his fourth season, King led the Ravens to an ECAC title. In his fifth season, he and the Ravens began upending the established order of Division II baseball in the northeast. Franklin Pierce took a Northeast-10 divisional crown in the regular season and stormed to the program’s first NCAA regional title. The run went all the way to national semifinal, and a dynasty was born.
Things really took off after the completion of Dr. Arthur and Martha Pappas Field heading into the 2005 season. “The facility was big for us, for sure, to maintain what we had built, but the fact remains that what was built was created while having a bad high school diamond as our home field,” said King, looking back. “As time went along, it became more important that we had built that facility, because many others were doing the same. Having Dr. Pappas and Martha in our corner was that little extra to push our program to the top of the Northeast-10 and keep it there for a long period of time.”
In the four-year stretch after opening the new facility, the Ravens rang up 170 wins. They claimed three straight NCAA regional crowns (2006, 2007, 2008) and three out of four NE10 titles (2005, 2007, 2008). They returned to the national semifinal in 2006.
In all, King would claim seven regional titles and five NE10 championships over his 18 seasons at the helm of the program. He posted 654 wins as the head coach of the Ravens, including seven 40-win campaigns.
Naturally, it’s the first of those regional titles which stands out in King’s mind looking back. “If I had to pick one moment [as a favorite at Franklin Pierce] it would be advancing to our first World Series and beating [UMass] Lowell on their home field,” said King. “That group made it all happen and did some special things for the program, my family and I. It seems literally like yesterday.”
King has since moved on to the Division I level, where he is currently the head coach at the University of Dayton and is up to his old tricks. He inherited a Flyers team which went 20-35 in 2017 and, in just his second season on the bench, guided the club to a 32-26-1 mark and a spot in the Atlantic 10 title game in 2019. King has brought many of the lessons he learned at Franklin Pierce with him to the next level.
“So many things from Pierce are with me today at Dayton,” said King. “I learned so much about the business and about myself there. I made a lot of mistakes and had many triumphs, but I was allowed to do both. I still approach things just as I did at Pierce… Have the student-athletes right on your heels as a leader when going to compete. Do a great job for them in all facets of their life, on and off the field, and make the University you coach at and your family proud.”
Jayson King Links of Note:
- Dayton Bio
- 2016 NCAA Regional Championship Recap
- 2003 NCAA Regional Championship Recap
- 2005 NE10 Championship Recap
ABOUT THE NE10
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