Legendary Carroll Land Passes Away At 87

SAN DIEGO, Calif.— Dr. Carroll Land, one of the greatest coaches and leaders of men in college baseball history at Point Loma Nazarene University, passed away in late December at the age of 87.

He served as the head baseball coach at PLNU from 1961-1999 and led the Sea Lions to 768 wins and 16 post-season appearances.

Land was named to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and also was a member of the NAIA and Point Loma Nazarene Halls of Fame.

He also was presented numerous other awards during his illustrious career, including the Dr. Robert Smith NAIA Coach and Character Award, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Jerry Kindall Award and Lefty Gomez Award.

Land led PLNU to back-to-back NAIA World Series appearances in 1993 and 1994 and coached numerous All-Americans.

He also served as the athletics director at PLNU where his vision brought growth and balance for men’s and women’s programs at the school.

At the international level, Land coached with the U.S. Military All-Stars for 16 seasons.

He served as a board member and chairman of the Board of the American Baseball Coaches Association. He also was a board member for USA Baseball and spent 12 years as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee House of Delegates and was involved in the administration of the World University Games.

He was connected to the university since enrolling as a freshman in 1953 when the school was called Pasadena College.

A year and a half later, he married his sweetheart, Barbara, a fellow student. Trying to make ends meet, Land left school and went to work.

In 1957, he joined the Marines. After a two-year stint in the Corps, he returned to Pasadena College.

This time he stayed for good.

Land was an outstanding baseball player and earned two team MVP awards at Pasadena. He played at Pasadena for three seasons and served as the head coach during his final year as a player.

This began his career in athletics.

Land earned his Master’s degree from USC in 1962 and became a full-time member of the Pasadena athletics’ staff.

Over the next few years he coached baseball, freshman basketball and cross country. He also served as the school’s sports information director and taught in the kinesiology department. Over the years, he would teach every course in the kinesiology curriculum.

He was appointed chair of the PE department in 1965 and became Pasadena’s athletic director in 1967. From that point on, until his retirement as baseball coach in 1999, Land served as athletic director, PE department chair and baseball head coach.

Land worked in sports information and helped clean the tennis courts and essentially helped where needed in the athletics’ department.

“I had taken big loads in school,” said Land.

“I helped with the team. Everything I did, I did uncompromisingly. I was five or six years older than the other players. So I was asked to go ahead and coach the baseball team. I had been on the staff seven years. I had my master’s degree and had served a couple of years as chair of the PE department when the athletic director vacancy came up suddenly. The President (W.S. Brown) asked if I would be interested in the job.”

When he wasn’t working, which was hardly ever, he spent his time earning a PhD from USC and raising two children, Brian and Cheree, with Barbara.

Land never worked under normal circumstances. In 1973, Pasadena College packed up and moved to its present location in San Diego.

Land’s duties now included the transition from Pasadena to San Diego. Scheduling issues, fundraising and purchasing of buses and moving the entire department was only the beginning.

In 1973, the present site of Point Loma Nazarene University had a gym, a beat up baseball field and an even more beat up track.

Land, a skilled carpenter, put every coach and athletic department administrator to work. In those days a person probably had a better chance of getting hired if they had a construction background.

“I was not one who felt the world was coming to an end,” said Land.

“I thought the world was opening up. Many had a hard time leaving Pasadena, mainly teachers.  But the athletics’ department didn’t have any decent facilities. So I thought coming to San Diego, with a real gymnasium, a track/football field — which we converted to soccer and a baseball field — was a huge improvement.

“We went from almost nothing to something. I believed the move would make us be a better, stronger athletic program.”

Over time, the baseball diamond was transformed into the gem it is today; pathways. Every other athletics’ facility was improved as well.