Legendary Amherst baseball coach Bill Thurston returns to the program this season as a special advisor. Thurston served as head coach of the baseball program from 1966 to 2009 and is the winningest coach in any sport in school history. He led the Purple & White to a staggering 811 victories (against just 471 losses and 12 ties) over 44 seasons. Widely respected as a teacher of baseball skills and techniques, his teams posted 22 consecutive winning seasons and cracked the 20-win plateau 21 times, including a streak of four straight 20-win seasons from 1988 to 1991 and from 2005 to 2008. In 2004, Thurston's club won its first-ever NESCAC Championship and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time since 1996, repeating these achievements in 2005. Amherst also claimed the NESCAC West Division crown in 2003 and 2005.
As the No. 1 pitcher and leading hitter at the University of Michigan, Thurston signed with the Detroit Tigers organization after his junior year and played three seasons of professional baseball. He began coaching in Dearborn, Michigan shortly thereafter and made his way to Amherst in the fall of 1965.
Thurston was named New England College Coach of the Year on four occasions (1974, 1980, 1984 and 1997) during his head coaching tenure at Amherst. In 1982, he was the recipient of the prestigious Jack Butterfield Award for coaching excellence and contributions to the game. In July 1996, he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, and in January 1997, he was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Also in 1997, Thurston received the Dr. James R. Andrews Award for his research and contributions in sports medicine. Recently, Thurston was inducted into the inaugural class of the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame in January 2014.
Thurston has been actively involved in coaching international baseball in Australia, Canada, China, Holland, Italy, Panama and Romania. In 1984 and 1985, he was the head coach of the Australian National Team, which competed in a number of international tournaments in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. In 1986, Thurston served as the pitching coach for the United States National Team, which competed in the World Cup Games in Holland.
Additionally, Thurston served as the NCAA baseball rules editor for 14 years before stepping down in 2001, and worked as a pitching consultant for the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama for 11 years. He also served on various committees for the American Baseball Coaches Association, the International Baseball Association and the United States Baseball Federation, along with numerous NCAA committees. Thurston is widely known and respected as a baseball clinician, lecturer, and writer and has conducted baseball clinics in over 25 states and five Canadian provinces. He authored a book - "An Instructional Manual for Pitchers and Pitching Coaches" - and has published numerous articles and studies on baseball skills, rules and coaching techniques. Thurston has produced four pitching videos as well, stressing proper pitching mechanics, video analysis of the pitching motion, proper care of the pitching arm and prevention of arm injuries.