SHAMROCKS TOMMY ORNDORFF RETIRES
One of the nation’s most successful and widely recognized travel ball coaches has retired. Tommy Orndorff informed SPY that, after 38 years as head coach of the most heralded program in the Eastern United States, “it is time.”
When questioned, Orndorff conveyed, “It’s time! I have given this sport almost 50 years of my life. I have been with the Shamrocks for 39 years now, 38 as the head coach. It’s been a great run, but it’s time!” He also added, “Out of respect for the game, I really like to believe that we did things the right way, played the game for the right reasons and played the game the right way. I take great pride in that! ”
Tommy plans to continue coaching at Bishop O’Connell High School, where his teams’ accomplishments are just as impressive — more often than not, nationally ranked each and every year.
Respect for the game and professionalism in our sport were key topics at a dinner August 11 at Capone’s in Huntington Beach (complete with the de rigeur photos of Frank Sinatra and Vito Corleone) – and memories of great coaches and teams covering a span of 30 years – Tommy, Gary Haning, Don Minard, Dan Hay, Kevin O’Donnell, Rayburn Hesse, hosted by Denny Gomes. We didn’t know it at the time but it was also Tommy’s 62nd birthday. A memory I recalled: when I coached the 12Us, we would gather the girls along the foul lines and watch Tommy’s 18s to “see how it was done.”
Tommy was also among a small group of coaches assembled by Ralph Weekly when he was ASA director of national teams – others included Jim Flowers of Army, Haning, Pam Newton, Dave Hazzard, and others. They met twice to make recommendations to ASA, were never convened again, their recommendations ignored.
The Shamrocks posted this statement on their web site:
“Long-time Shamrocks Coach Tommy Orndorff is calling it quits, retiring after 38 years guiding one of the nation’s most prestigious fastpitch softball programs.
The Shamrocks’ game has come a long ways since those early days in the ‘70s, and all under the leadership of Tommy Orndorff. He has been an icon at the helm since 1973, amassing over 1,500 wins during that stretch while compiling a better than .800 winning percentage playing one of the country’s most competitive summer schedules. The 18-and-Under Shamrocks have earned 10 finishes in the Top 10 and 14 Top 20 finishes at the 18-and-Under ASA National Championships – including a run of 22 straight years qualifying at the Junior Olympic game’s highest level. That streak has seen this Virginia-based team finish in The Final Five eight times.
That, in itself, is amazing! But, even more impressive have been the Shamrocks’ accomplishments in recent years, with five Final Five finishes over a six-year period, including their National Championship campaign in 2005 and a runner-up finish in 2003.
The Shamrocks earned berths to the 18-and-Under ASA Nationals 25 times over their 39-year history, the first coming in 1977 when “the little team from Virginia” finished 12th overall (tied for 9th nationally by today’s standards) and were the darlings of the tournament, being an eastern contingent competing at ASA Nationals in Binghamton, NY.
The Shamrocks’ success promises to continue in the years to come, with a strong nucleus returning at the 18-and-Unders and promising prospects at the younger levels of play in the 16s, 14s, 12s and newly-formed 10s age groups under the guidance and leadership of Tom Sims, who will oversee the 18s and the entire program.”
The Orndorff Record
- 1,578 wins, 371 losses, all at the 18-and-Under level of play ………… .810 winning percentage…………. does not include our records from 1972 thru 1975, never able to locate them
- program started in 1972 with Pat Gleason as Head Coach and Tommy Orndorff as his assistant coach……… Gleason retired a year later because of health reasons, and Tommy has been at the helm ever since
- his Shamrocks earned berths to the 18-and-Under ASA Nationals 25 times over their 39-year history, the first coming in 1977 when “the little team from Virginia” finished 12th overall (tied for 9th nationally by today’s standards)
- the Shamrocks have earned 10 finishes in the Top 10 and 14 Top 20 finishes at the 18-and-Under ASA National Championships — including a run of 22 straight years qualifying at the Junior Olympic game’s highest level…………… that streak has seen this Virginia-based team finish in The Final Five eight times.
- even more impressive have been the Shamrocks’ accomplishments in recent years, with five Final Five finishes over a six-year period, including their Gold National Championship campaign in 2005 and a runner-up finish in 2003.
Bishop O’Connell High School
- 579 wins, 67 losses………… an amazing .896 winning percentage……………… 25 years at the helm at Bishop O’Connell, beginning in 1986
- 18 Catholic League championships in 25 years: four Catholic Girls Athletic Association titles before the CGAA and WMAC leagues merged to form the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, where Bishop O’Connell has won 14 WCAC crowns in 17 years — including a current run of seven straight championships in WCAC play.
- Bishop O’Connell has won the Virginia Independent Schools State Championship in 16 of the 17 years that it has participated in the State Tournament — including a run of eight straight titles between 1994 and 2001, with a current run of another eight consecutive crowns…………… O’Connell’s overall record in State Tournament play: 50-1.
- this past spring, Bishop O’Connell eclipsed the 20-win plateau for an 18th straight year