Ken Knutson served as Washington head coach from 1993 through 2009. He concluded his UW career with the most coaching wins in UW baseball history, and 15th-most in Pac-10 history.
Here are a list of Knutson's accomplishments during his 17-year head coaching tenure at Washington:
- Spent 17 seasons as head coach at Washington, compiling a career overall record of 584-399-2 and a career record of 240-189 in Pac-10 play.
When the Husky baseball team beat UCLA, 7-2, on May 22, 2004, at Husky Ballpark, Knutson became the winningest baseball coach in UW history, passing the 422 wins of his former coach and mentor Bob MacDonald. In 2007, he added to that legacy, becoming only the 17th baseball coach in Pac-10 history to reach 500 wins, reaching that milestone with a victory over Southern Utah on March 5, 2007. Last year, he became the winningest coach - in any sport - in UW athletics history.
What those wins did was cement the notion that there has been no better or more successful coach in Husky baseball history. With all due respect to longtime skippers like MacDonald and Tubby Graves, Knutson's credentials speak for themselves.
With his 584-399-2 overall record, Knutson won 162 more games than any other Husky coach and, with 985 career games, he coached nearly 32 percent of all the games ever played by UW baseball teams. And of course, he's done it against a much more competive schedule than any of his predecessors had ever faced.
In addition, his 17 seasons at the helm of his alma mater's baseball team were the most successful stretch since the program's inception in 1901. In fact, in terms of national recognition, winning seasons and postseason achievements, you could argue that the his 17 years have seen more success than the previous 92 years combined.
In his 17 years as coach, Ken Knutson built the UW baseball team into the dominant program in the Northwest, one of the most consistently successful programs in the West and a nationally respected team that always plays at the highest level even as the UW and the other former Northern Division teams completed a 1999 merger to a unified Pac-10, the most successful conference in the country.
In 17 seasons, Knutson has led the Dawgs to two Pacific-10 Conference championships, four Pac-10 Northern Division crowns, a second-place league finish and two second-place division finishes. He led Washington to within one game of its first College World Series appearance on two occasions. Six of Washington's eight all-time NCAA appearances came under Knutson's watch.
His teams beat seven No. 1-ranked teams. He has landed the Huskies' first-ever top 10 recruiting class. Knutson was named the Pac-10 North Coach of the Year three times. In 1994, he coached the first Washington first-team All-American. In doing all this, Knutson's teams have almost completely rewritten the school record books while developing a long list of talented players.
During his 17 years, Knutson has sent 83 players onto the professional ranks, only 24 of whom were drafted out of high school (those numbers include free-agent signees). He also coached 55 All-Pac-10 first-team players and 23 Pac-10 All-Academic honorees. Under Knutson's tutelage, 26 Huskies earned some level of All-America acclaim and eight were named first-team Freshman All-Americans. Additionally, eight different Husky players participated with the USA Baseball National Team, including starters Chris Magruder (1997) and Brent Lillibridge (2003). Before Knutson's arrival as head coach, no Husky had ever even tried out for the national team.
Of the 15 UW players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, seven played under Knutson as head coach and 10 played on teams for which he was either the head coach or an assistant.
In 2006, Knutson coached Tim Lincecum, a unanimous All-American and the winner of the Golden Spikes Award, which recognizes the nation's top amateur baseball player and is considered the Heisman Trophy of college baseball. Lincecum was only the third player from a northern school to win the Golden Spikes. Lincecum went on to win the 2008 National League Cy Young Award, the highest single-season honor ever awarded to a UW alumnus in one of the major professional sports.
In his final season at the UW, 2009, the Huskies overcame a slow start and season-ending injuries to four key starters to finish 25-30 and in fifth place in the Pac-10. Going into the final five games of the year, the Huskies still had a chance for a second-place finish. Five Huskies were drafted at season's end.
The 2008 Huskies went 33-22 overall and 11-13 in the Pac-10 Conference, perhaps just one league win away from a postseason berth. Three Huskies were drafted inside of the first 16 rounds and two Huskies (starting pitcher Jorden Merry and outfielder Kyle Conley) earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors.
In 2007, the Huskies finished 29-27 overall and 11-13 in the Pac-10, good for fifth place, one spot ahead of eventual national champion Oregon State in the conference standings.
The Huskies produced another high draft pick as the Boston Red Sox chose lefty pitcher Nick Hagadone with their first pick in the supplemental round. Five other Huskies also moved on to the pro ranks.
In 2006 the Dawgs finished fifth in the league at 36-25 overall and 11-13 in Pac-10. Four players earned All-Pac-10 (including Lincecum, the league's Pitcher of the Year), and six players went on to play professional baseball.
In 2005, the Huskies fell perhaps one win short of making an unprecendented fourth straight NCAA postseason appearance, finishing 33-22 overall and 12-12 in the Pac-10. The Huskies led all NCAA Division I schools in fielding while finishing 12th in home runs and had seven players drafted or signed by professional teams.
In 2004, the Huskies continued their ascent in the rugged Pacific-10 Conference, finishing alone in second place in the standings, only one win short of the championship at 39-20-1 overall and 15-9 in the league. For the third straight season, the Huskies played in an NCAA Regional championship round, this time at Ole Miss. Six more Huskies went on to professional baseball at season's end after four were named first-team All-Pac-10. In addition, Lincecum became the first ever to earn Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year in the same season.
After struggling to play up to the level of the re-unified Pacific-10 Conference, the Huskies arrived in 2003, taking sole possession of third place in the conference with a 15-9 mark and a 42-18 overall record. That included a sweep of USC, probably the most powerful program in college history, to end the regular season. Washington made its seventh NCAA Regional appearance (fifth under Knutson) and once again out-played its seeding, finishing second in the regional after entering as the third seed. Six 2003 Huskies signed pro contracts at season's end.
In 2002, despite not posting one of the best overall won-lost records of his career, Knutson, who also served as the Husky pitching coach, may have turned in one of his finest coaching jobs. Halfway through the season, the Huskies were mired in a seven-game losing streak and had a 12-15-1 record. Against the odds, the UW turned it around in the second half of the year, challenging for the championship of the powerful Pac-10 all the way into the final weekend of the season. At the end, the Huskies went 18-10 over the last 28 games of the regular season and ended up in third place in the conference, a good enough mark to give the team an NCAA Regional berth. Six members of the 2002 Husky team signed pro contracts after the season. Two others were drafted, but decided to return for their senior seasons.
In 2001, Knutson's Huskies laid the groundwork for the successful 2002 campaign. The Huskies, despite a rash of devastating mid-season injuries, still managed a 29-23 record and did so with sophomores nearly everywhere on the diamond each day. In 2000, Knutson's Huskies began that road to success, as one of the nation's top freshmen classes comprised much of a Husky team.
In 1999, the first season of the integrated Pac-10, Knutson led the club to a 12-12 league record and fell perhaps only one victory short of earning an NCAA berth. Knutson also helped tutor the team's highest-ever draft pick - Jeff Heaverlo, the 33rd pick in the draft. Heaverlo was one of six Huskies to move onto the pro ranks.
In 1998, the Huskies posted a banner season, as Knutson's Dawgs won their second consecutive Pac-10 title, sweeping No. 1-ranked Stanford in two games for the title. The `98 Huskies posted a 41-17 overall mark and won the Pac-10 North with a 17-7 record, earning Knutson his third straight Pac-10 North Coach of the Year honor. The Dawgs finished third at the NCAA Central Regional and, for the second straight year, finished No. 13 in the nation in the final poll.
Following the 1998 season, Washington had seven players sign professional contracts, including four that were taken in the first five rounds of the draft, the second-highest such total of any college in the nation.
In 1997, Washington had perhaps its best season ever. The UW tied the school record for wins (46, set before in 1994) and finished as the No. 13 team in the nation with its 46-20 overall mark. Washington ran roughshod over the Pac-10 North, posting a 20-4 record, and beat No. 4 Stanford, two games to one, to win the Huskies' first overall Pac-10 championship and the first by any Northern Division team since 1956.
The 1997 Huskies went on to the NCAA Mideast Regional at Mississippi State as the No. 4 seed, but beat the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds to work their way to the championship round. The Dawgs fell twice to the host Bulldogs in a pair of tight games to be denied a trip to Omaha, but nonetheless had come closer than ever before. The team also had one of the best offensive seasons in Pac-10 history, batting .340 as a team and breaking the school and Northern Division mark in nearly every offensive category. The team also posted 31 road wins on the season, the most in the nation. For his efforts, Knutson was named the Pac-10 North Coach of the Year for the second straight year.
In 1996, Knutson was named Pac-10 North Coach of the Year after guiding the Dawgs to a Pac-10 Northern Division title. Knutson's lineup included an average of more than six freshmen per game, but despite its youth and a schedule that included 16 games against ranked teams (all on the road), the Husky team came on to win the division crown. The UW then came within one win of a berth in the NCAA Regionals, taking game one of the Pac-10 Championship Series against USC before dropping games two and three.
In 1995, Knutson became only the third head coach in Husky history to win 100 games. Despite seeing his team lose several significant players to the draft and to injury, Knutson coached the 1995 Huskies to a second-place finish in the Pac-10 North, taking the division race into the last weekend.
Despite finishing second in the Pac-10 North, 1994 was the most successful in UW history to that point. The UW, playing its toughest schedule ever, was ranked all season, beat three different teams ranked No. 1 at some point, broke the school wins record by seven and was finally stopped in the NCAA Regional final.
That team won 42 regular-season games and entered the NCAA Midwest II Regional as the fifth seed. The Huskies went on to post upset wins over Long Beach State (twice), Santa Clara and Georgia Tech (in a 14-inning marathon) before succumbing to Tech in a second championship game. Washington was the only team that year to force a second championship game on the last day of regional play.
UW, which had had only three All-Americans in recorded history, saw five different players named to various All-America teams after the 1994 season.
Knutson's first season as the Husky head coach (1993) was an eventful one. Washington enjoyed another of its most successful seasons ever, posting a 39-19 overall record. The Huskies also won their second straight Pac-10 Northern Division title with a 22-8 league mark, posting a Northern Division record with the 22 league wins. It was the Huskies' first repeat since 1932, when the UW won its fourth in a row. Knutson won his first game Feb. 19, 1993, on Chad Hartvigson's three-hit gem, a 3-1 win at Hawaii.
Knutson, who spent nine seasons with the Huskies as a player and assistant, took over prior to the 1993 season for long-time mentor Bob MacDonald, who left the Huskies after 16 seasons. Directly prior to being named the head coach, Knutson was working as a graduate assistant at Wichita State.
From 1990-92, Knutson served as assistant head coach and pitching coach for the Huskies. In those three years, he helped produce several quality prospects that went on to the professional ranks. One, Scott Brow, made his major league debut for the Blue Jays in 1993 and was on the roster for Toronto's World Series victory.
That three-year stint was his second as an assistant under MacDonald. From 1982 to 1986 he was in charge of the Husky pitching staff. In 1985, UW led the nation with an earned run average of only 2.80.
In 1981, Knutson, a left-hander, pitched 62.1 innings for Washington, recording a 5-2 record and a 2.89 ERA as the Huskies won the Pacific-10 Conference Northern Division title, their first since 1959. He earned All-Pac-10 first-team honors that year, as well as the team's Most Inspirational Player award, after transferring from Seattle University, where he was an all-league player.
Knutson's head coaching experience prior to taking over at the UW came in the semi-pro Western International League, where he coached a pair of teams. He led "Husky Fever" to the state championship in 1982 and to runner-up finishes in 1985 and 1991.
In 1988 and 1989, Knutson took charge of the Seattle Studs. In 1989, the Studs were state and regional champions and qualified for the NBC World Series in Wichita. He received the league's coach of the year award that season for his efforts.
Born in Sisseton, S.D., Knutson was raised in Seattle. He was an all-state pitcher at Seattle's Evergreen High School in 1976 and also quarterbacked the football team.
Knutson was married on August 31, 1991, to his wife Pam. They have three children - Halie, Andrew and Camille - and reside in Bothell, Wash.