From the diamond to the desk


There is no crying in baseball, unless you’re leaving the game. Former UNF assistant baseball coach Bob Shepherd stepped off the baseball diamond when head coach Smoke Laval started in the summer. Shepherd left baseball and had an opportunity to stay at UNF, moving to the division of student affairs.

Shepherd began as an assistant coach under Dusty Rhodes in the summer of 2003 as a pitching coach, according to Before he arrived at UNF, he helped coach its cross-town rival Jacksonville University, where he became the assistant head coach and hitting coach. He officially received his first coaching job at Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif., in 1990. A couple of years later, he went to Purdue in the Big Ten conference.

People asked him why he would go from JU, being a Division 1 school, to UNF, a Division II school. His answer was Rhodes, he said.

“Dusty got me involved in international ball,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd and Rhodes still run baseball clinics together, spreading the word of the game to inspired children who want to learn how to play. Professionals from across the nation come to help Shepherd and Rhodes teach the sport to young athletes.

“Dusty was like a mentor to me,” Shepherd said. “He coached UNF to three NCAA tournaments in five years.”

Now in student affairs, Shepherd enjoys to be able to help the students of the university, he said.

“I love to interact with students on the college level,” Shepherd said.

He understands when a new coach is hired, he has the opportunity to hire a new staff, he said.

“I miss those relationships, but it is a lifetime relationship,” Shepherd said. “You never leave those UNF baseball families.”

Baseball was not his only consideration when taking this job.

“My family is here, and I have two kids,” Shepherd said. “Baseball was my entire life, and after 23 years, it is a good time to switch positions. It’s good all the way around.”

The switch from being involved in baseball at the university, to student affairs at the university was a different change of pace, he said.

“It is just a change in relationships,” Shepherd said.

UNF is not the only baseball-related opportunity for Shepherd. He is involved with the New York Mets as a special assignment scout. His job is to keep a look-out for any prospects that he may see and contact the Mets about the player.

“If I’m in Hong Kong and see players that might be interested in playing, I let them know,” Shepherd said. “I try to help out the organization any way I see fit. It is kind of a weird gig.”

Being confined to UNF is not Shepherd’s only plan. He has recently been named the head baseball coach at Fletcher High School. He is not even limited to baseball within the U.S. Traveling around the world to help with baseball clinics is something that he is used to.

“I get to do a lot of what I was doing as a hobby,” Shepherd said. “I can still do baseball on the side with the Mets, scouting and going to clinics all over the world, and I get to coach at Fletcher High School with those kids.”

Shepherd runs clinics, teaching young kids about the game of baseball, while doing mission work at the same time. He brings equipment, including expensive gloves, Slugger baseball bats and other gear, uses them in the camp, then leaves the equipment with the kids.

“I do it to make a dollar to give to the community,” Shepherd said.

His upcoming clinics include traveling to Beijing, Island Mirada and Singapore.

Although he travels, and baseball still surrounds his life, and he wants to make sure his job at UNF is satisfied first.

“My first responsibility is the university, and my job is most important to me,” Shepherd said. “I like to be able to have an impact on the college.”