LOWELL, MA (Jan. 28, 2002) ߝ Jim Stone, entering his 37th season as the head baseball coach at UMass Lowell, will retire at the end of the 2003 season, announced Director of Athletics Dana Skinner.
Stone will be replaced by Associate Head Coach Ken “K.C.” Connerty (left), who has served as Stone’s assistant for 19 years. Connerty will assume head coaching duties on June 1.
“Obviously you don't just replace a coach like Jim Stone,” said Skinner. “He will retire with more wins than any coach in Lowell's athletic history, and that says a great deal about not only his coaching talents, but his ability to motivate young people.”
The River Hawks enter the 2003 season ranked No. 7 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division II Top 30 Poll.
“I am thrilled to be replaced by one of my own,” said Stone. “K.C. has been extremely loyal to me and the baseball program here at Lowell. This program would not be as successful without his input and his coaching. He is a big reason why our program has been so successful over the last 20 years.”
Stone has compiled a won-loss-tie record of 769-381-7 (.665) and has guided the River Hawks to 19 postseason bids ߝ including 13 NCAA Tournament berths ߝ as well as two straight appearances at the Division II College World Series. Over the last 21 seasons, he has put together a 629-287-3 clip (.684) and has led the River Hawks to 20 or more victories 22 times and 30 wins six times.
Stone has also garnered many awards during his tenure, including New England Division II Coach of the Year honors nine times as well as NCAA Division II Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors five times. In 1991 he was presented with the Jack Butterfield Award ߝ presented to the active coach for his contributions to New England baseball ߝ by the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA).
Many of Stone’s players have moved on to sign professional contracts, including 1987 Golden Glove winner Mike LaVallierre, who starred for UML from 1979-81 and played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. Two of Stone’s players were drafted last season ߝ David Williamson in the seventh round by the St. Louis Cardinals and Matt Tupman in the ninth by the Kansas City Royals ߝ for the first time in school history.
Connerty, a 1983 UMass Lowell graduate (criminal justice) was named associate head coach by Stone prior to the 1997 season and is regarded as one of the top hitting instructors in New England.
“I’m excited to be the head coach after 19 years of being with UMass Lowell,” Connerty said. “I don’t see this program changing much at all. The program is in good standing right now and we intend to keep it that way.
“It is going to be tough to follow in Coach Stone’s footsteps, but I’m going to do the best I can,” Connerty added.
A 1992 UMass Lowell Hall of Fame inductee, Connerty was a two-time All-New England outfielder and still ranks among career leaders in several categories including triples (2nd, 12), singles (13th, 102) and hits (19th, 137). Upon graduation, he was the school record holder for at-bats in a game (seven) and triples in a season (six) and career (12). An outfielder from 1980-83, he helped lead the Chiefs to a four-year record of 85-33 (.720), including the program’s second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1981. Upon graduation in 1983, Connerty spent one year in the Cleveland Indians organization before returning to New England.
A native of Burlington, MA, Connerty and his wife, Bernadette, are the parents of three daughters and reside in Nashua, NH.